My Top Ten Dragons of Folklore and Fantasy

Nothing in the fantasy world promises more death and terror than the dragon. Legends have painted them in many lights, from the benign to the fire-breathing menaces that we think of when the word dragon is mentioned. In stories they can be both gods and demons, guardians of untold wealth and knowledge. They vary in color and size, and some of them come back from the grave to haunt us, but the broad consensus of dragons is that they are not to be trifled with. Many people survive their reptilian neighbors by sacrificing their virgin daughters to these creatures.

Sadly, fantasy isn’t always kind to dragons. Where hundreds of trained professionals and adventurers have attempted and failed to steal the dragon’s hoard, inexperienced farm boys and apprentices will succeed. So without further ado, I’ll list off the ten dragons that I have enjoyed the most.

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#10 Hungarian Horntail

(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling)

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            At the top of my list comes the most dangerous dragon of the Harry Potter series. Remember how I said fantasy isn’t kind to dragons? The Horntail is the prime example. The Horntail is a tough lady with an equally tough attitude. Unfortunately, this poor soul was captured and sent to Hogwarts as part of the Triwizard Tournament, where he was shamed by the 14 year old main character. The dragon looks fantastic on the big screen and would have eaten Harry if it weren’t for that meddling JK Rowling. The movie was the worse depiction of this dragon’s demise, making her crash into a wooden bridge…

The Horntail makes my list because it is one of my favorites to see in action.

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#9 Toothless

(How to Train Your Dragon, Dreamworks)

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            This little bundle of joy has captured the hearts of countless fans and mine too. Toothless, a Night Fury, is first seen, or rather heard, at night, speeding through the skies and raining explosive balls of blue fire at the Vikings. As the offspring of lightning and death, Toothless forges a loving bond with a human and the two of them have many adventures.

Arguably the fastest dragon on this list, (and the cutest by far!), Toothless and his friend Hiccup (who also happens to be responsible for crippling poor Toothless) destroy Red Death, the super-sized dragon queen, in a one-on-one midair firefight, proving that size doesn’t matter.

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#8 Fafnir

(Volsunga Saga, Norse Mythology)

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            Fafnir was once the son of the dwarf king Hreidmar, but blinded by greed, he killed his father and stole the cursed gold of Anvari and the ring Andvaranaut. He was then transformed into the legendary dragon that we associate his name with. The huge beast poisoned the land around him, but was ambushed by Sigurd.

Fafnir was a legend that defined the iconic dragon and the dragon’s hoard of treasure. He may have even defined the dragon’s role in fantasy as an extremely dangerous yet rather easily defeated creature. In defense of dragons, Fafnir wasn’t born a dragon, so we can give him some leeway for his failure.

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#7 Alduin

(The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bethesda Softworks)

297312-Sepik

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       This dragon is the self-proclaimed firstborn son of the dragon-god Akatosh of Tamriel. His very name will make you step back and rethink fighting him: World Eater. While he hasn’t eaten any worlds (to my knowledge), he does command the ability to resurrect dragons to terrorize the world.

He was a terror to Skyrim long ago, but the power of the Elder Scroll transported him through time to be dealt with by later generations. He had a cool plan as a dragon: eat people in real life, then eat them in the afterlife. Kinda sucks to be a snack twice!

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#6 Trogdor

(Dragon Email, Strongbad)

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            There are few dragons whose birthplace was on the internet. Trogdor the Burninator is King of them all! Trogdor was a man, a dragon man, a dragon with an epic metal theme song. How many dragons can boast that AND a synthesized voice? He was Strongbad’s second attempt at drawing a dragon and received his own holiday named Trogday.

With one beefy arm and constabulate V’s, Trogdor dominated the land of Peasantry and proved to the world that dragons in 2 dimensions are as scary as those of 3.

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#5 Saphira

(Inheritance Cycle, Christopher Paolini)

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The story of the blue babe of dragons was the first to make me jealous of a main character. Eragon lived out my dreams by becoming a Dragonrider and raising his own dragon from birth. Lucky? I think yes! The bond between rider and dragon would grant the rider physical and mgical abilities that he/she never before possessed.

Saphira is most notable because she becomes the hope of the return of the Dragonriders. No living human had seen a dragon, and Saphira’s bite was worse than her growl, a point she often made clear to her enemies, including rival dragons.

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#4 Hydra

(Greek Mythology)

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            What’s scarier than a dragon? A two-headed dragon,. What’s scarier than that? How about a dragon that has more heads than the vase-painters can paint? “This monster was so poisonous that she killed men with her breath and excretion. If anyone passed by when she was sleeping, he breathed her tracks and died in the greatest torment.” –Hyginus.

While not a traditional dragon of fire and flight, the Greek hydra is a terror to behold and a close enough relative to the others. Heracles discovered Hydra’s true strength when he cut off its head: two heads grew in its place. Needless to say, Hydra became exponentially more powerful with each beheading.

Hydra’s reign of terror did not stop with its death. Heracles used its extremely deadly blood on his arrows to kill many other monstrous beasts of Greek legend.

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#3 Smaug

(The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien)

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            Smaug is the iconic dragon of the western world and his actions earned him his own song. He is greedy, he is vain, and he is King under the Mountain. He single handedly burned the entire city of men and dwarves named Dale.

Smaug describes himself as such: “My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail is a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!” He is the fantasy world’s epitome of dragons and he won’t be dethroned, even if he has one weak point.

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#2 Glaurung

(The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien)

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            Even though this picture is a winged dragon of the First Age, it captures the power that is Glaurung, the first dragon of Middle Earth. While only a century old, he burned the kingdoms of Ard-galen and Dorthonion. While not as famous as Smaug, he is by far the deadlier and was given command of orcs and balrogs to ravage the people of Middle Earth.

He possesses a hypnotic stare to freeze his foes and even in death his blood was a poison to his enemies. He is the Father of Dragons and destroying entire kingdoms as an adolescent earns him the number 2 spot on my list. Plus, balrogs bow to him.

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Before I list #1, here are a few favored honorable mentions.

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#1 Leviathan

(Judeo-Christian Bible)

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            The great leviathan gets number 1 and if you ask why, I’ll let Job chapter 41 explain it to you:

7 Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?

8 If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!

9 Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.

10 No-one is fierce enough to rouse him…

12 I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form.

13 Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle?

14 Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth?

15 His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together;

16 Each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.

17 They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.

18 His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn.

19 Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.

20 Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.

21 His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth.

22 Strength resides in his neck; dismay goes before him.

23 The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.

24 His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.

25 When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing.

26 The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.

27 Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.

28 Arrows do not make him flee, sling stones are like chaff to him.

29 A club seems to him but a piece of straw, he laughs at the rattling of the lance.

30 His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing-sledge.

31 He makes the depths churn like a boiling cauldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.

32 Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.

33 Nothing on earth is his equal—a creature without fear.

34 He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.

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And those are the dragons that I’ve liked the most in fantasy. What dragons do you like and why? Leave a comment below for your favorite dragons! And give a shout out for Oriental dragons because I don’t know anything about them (and I’d love to find some stories about them).

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Pictures taken from (in order of appearance):

wallpapervortex.com

Harrypotter.wikia.com

Howtotrainyourdragon.com

andrekosslick.deviantart.com

elderscrolls.wikia.com

hrwiki.org

inheritance.wikia.com

turkiish.deviantart.com

lotr.wikia.com

lotr.wikia.com (rubendevela)

absoluteanime.com

wowwiki.com

freemovies.me (D-Wars)

pokemon.wikia.com

vyrilien.deviantart.com

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Posted on November 15, 2014, in Top Ten Lists and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I had completely forgotten about Trogdor the burninator till I read this. Thankyou 🙂

    Like

  2. Where’s Godzilla he’s a sea dragon

    Like

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