From Toothless to Smaug to Maleficent: 10 of Our Favorite Dragons in Pop Culture

Posted by Margaret Dunham

Daenerys’ roaring children, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Smaug, Toothless’ reappearance on the big screen: dragons are definitely in style this season! Fire-breathing, scaled, and generally-winged, dragons have been a big hit in myth and fiction for centuries. These days, they’re taking popular fiction and the big screen by storm. You can even check out this reference guide to compare the size of your favorite dragons! Here are 10 of the most beloved dragons in pop culture; which are your favorites?

Smaug: Deadly, uncaring, and a definite hoarder, Smaug has been terrorizing us since we read The Hobbit as kids, saw the Rankin and Bass animated feature, and most recently in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. He may be able to smell a burglar, but seeing into the shadow realm? Good luck finding Bilbo now!


Toothless: Made famous by the Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon and the forthcoming sequel, this dragon started out on the pages of Cressida Cowell’s books. Toothless, the most house-cat-like dragon we've ever seen, makes life a little more interesting for Hiccup and the rest of the Vikings, ultimately changing how dragons and humans get along forever!


The Game of Thrones Trio: Viserion, Rhaegal and Drogon – how awesome are these three? Both in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and the Game of Thrones show, these are probably the most famous dragon siblings in the world. Yes there are other dragons alluded to in AsoIaF/GoT, but these three are the last dragons – the children of a species long thought dead. Plus they have a princess as their mother, which is a pretty fantastic reversal of that traditional dragon-princess relationship.


Kazul: A unique member of the dragon community in Patricia C. Wrede’s The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Kazul has no problem taking a human princess under her (literal) wing and enjoys a good batch of homemade cherries jubilee. She’s also an aspiring King of the Dragons when we first meet her because, as Kazul herself explains, “Queen of the Dragons is a totally different job from King, and it’s not one I’m particularly interested in.” ”‘King’ is the name of the job. It doesn’t matter who holds it.”


Falcor: The famous luck dragon of Fantasia (or Fantastica, in the original The Never-Ending Story novel) is one of the more personable dragons in our line-up. He speaks, gives sage advice, and has no real aversion to being a mount for Atreyu (and later Bastian). While he's less of a scaly fire-breather then the others on this list, having a luck dragon with you really is the only way to travel.


Elliot: Also known as “the dragon from Pete’s Dragon,” there is some debate as to whether Elliot is imaginary, since Pete is the only one that can see him. Elliot helps Pete escape one of the scariest “families” in Disney family films and helps re-unite Pete's new family with those they’ve lost. Oh, all while evading a snake-oil-selling duo that’s recently turned to dragon poaching.


Mushu: “I'm travel-sized for your convenience!” Mushu is a tiny dragon in Disney's Mulan trying to prove himself by helping Mulan protect China and her family's honor. He winds up causing more trouble than he resolves, but he's a devoted friend and helper nonetheless.


Maleficent: The horned sorceress we remember from Disney's Sleeping Beauty makes a comeback this spring with her own movie and a telling of her side of the story. In a signature move in the animated feature, Maleficent transforms into a magnificent dragon breathing green fire and wreaking havoc on that fairy tale kingdom. The new movie tells us more about who she is, her dark powers, and more!


Mad Madam Mim: Often forgotten amongst the dragons is the giant pink/purple dragon that Mad Madam Mim becomes in Disney's The Sword and The Stone. She's a terrible monster to fight, and while merlin does defeat her, that doesn't mean she isn't just as fierce as the other dragons on this list!


Tiamat: No, not the draconic goddess from D&D, the baby dragon purchased from a seedy magic shop in Bruce Coville’s Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher. Even as a hatchling this little spitfire is fiercely loyal to Jeremy, swooping in to protect him and avenge any wrongs done to him. In the end their attachment to one another is so strong that a dimensional rift can’t truly keep them apart.

These are just 10 of the many dragons in beloved stories from around the world – did we miss your favorite? Share your favorite dragons and why you love them here in the comments below!