The How to Train Your Dragon franchise, based on the beloved books by Cressida Cowell, has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide with its tale of friendship, courage, and the remarkable world of dragons. As we eagerly await the upcoming live-action reboot, now is the perfect time to revisit some of the strongest and most fascinating dragons that have graced the franchise. These creatures, each with their unique abilities and characteristics, have left an indelible mark on the world of animated dragons.
1. Night Fury
Prior to the outcast Hiccup befriending Toothless, the Night Fury was the least understood species of dragon. With their black scales, nocturnal hunting strategies, and wicked speed, nobody even knew what a Night Fury looked like. This caused the Viking’s fear of them to skyrocket, and they referred to the Night Fury as the unholy offspring of lightning and death itself.
While Toothless showed how kind and compassionate a Night Fury can be, he also showed their destructive capabilities, proving that they’re the strongest dragons in How to Train Your Dragon. Instead of breathing fire, Night Fury direct concentrated shots of plasma at their foes, giving them precise control of who or what they burn. They also possess mastery over storms and can collect lightning around themselves for temporary invisibility.
Every dragon nest is ruled over by a queen, but even the queens will follow the command of an alpha dragon. While Toothless showed that any species is capable of becoming an Alpha, few come as naturally to the position as the Bewilderbeast among the giant creatures in the films. These gargantuan sea dragons are the largest dragon breed and possess an innate ability to control other dragons.
Most Bewilderbeasts don’t have to use their mind-control powers on other dragons and instead earn their loyalty through kindness. They make lairs for their flock far away from others, sculpting them out of their icy breath and providing food by collecting massive schools of fish. Should the lair come under attack, especially from another Bewilderbeast, the alpha won’t hesitate to fight.
3. Red Death
One of the largest species of dragons, the Red Death, lords over smaller dragons like a queen. It establishes a lair deep within isolated mountains and attracts other dragons to nest there and gather food for it. If they fail, the Red Death makes a meal out of them.
Should danger come to the nest, the Red Death will do battle with its enormous size, clubbed tail, and far-reaching flames. It also possesses six eyes, making it hard to find a blind spot, and can maneuver quite well in the air for a creature its size. However, it’s not able to fully control the mind of its dragons and thus cannot rely on them to back it up in a fight.
4. Monstrous Nightmare
The most traditional dragon made for the film, the Monstrous Nightmare easily lives up to its reputation. One of the largest and most aggressive species, the Nightmare almost never retreats from a fight until it’s over. Though their teeth and claws can tear a Viking to shreds, their unique flames are their greatest weapon.
Among the most powerful dragons in How to Train Your Dragon, the Nightmare has a fire comparable to kerosene. It spreads like a liquid across wood, stone, and metal, allowing it to cling to most objects long after the dragon has finished its attack. This extends to the Nightmare’s own scales, which allow the dragon to cover itself in a cloak of flames to further intimidate its foes. It may not be the strangest-looking dragon in the movies, but it’s among the most dangerous.
5. Deadly Nadder
The bird-like Deadly Nadder is one of the prettier species of dragons. With their large beaks and bright coloration, they come across as the draconic equivalent of a parrot. Nevertheless, these enchanting dragons possess some of the deadliest weapons of their kind.
The fire of the Deadly Nadder is among the hottest of all dragons and can reduce stone and metal to slag within moments. They can launch the spines on their body as projectile weapons, meaning they can keep fighting even when their fire has run dry. Fortunately, the Nadder’s large beak leaves it with a blind spot directly in front of it.
Everything about the Deathgripper is designed for combat. These heavily armored dragons hunt in packs and are more than capable of killing their fellow dragons. From the front, they can impale them on retractable tusks or melt them with a flammable corrosive acid, while from the back, their clubbed tails possess a deadly stinger.
The venom of the Deathgripper is one of the strongest in the dragon world. They can control the dose delivered with each sting, making the effects range from paralysis to flooding their prey with enough poison to kill whoever touches them. However, Deathgrippers are not immune to their toxins, which can be used to place them and other dragons in a docile and easily controlled state. It makes sense that they’re often seen allied with the best DreamWorks villains.
Drawing inspiration from owls and X-Wing Fighters from Star Wars, Stormcutters are some of the best fliers in all of dragon-kind. Their sleek bodies and four large wings allow them to make graceful maneuvers in the air. Their gray scales also grant them camouflage among the clouds, allowing them to overtake and ambush prey and rivals.
In combat, Stormcutter dragons breathe a torrent of flames in a straight line, which resembles a tornado. Using their wings, they can easily spread the flames around for maximum damage. They can also turn their heads nearly 360 degrees, much like an owl, which allows them to keep a constant eye on their opponents.
Closely related to the Gronckle, the Hotburple is believed to be one of the laziest species of dragons. Despite its larger wings, the Hotburple is less graceful than its cousin in flight and prefers to spend its time on the ground, sleeping. However, if angered, the Hotburple is more than capable of demonstrating why you should never wake a sleeping giant.
The Hotburple’s jaws and gut are stronger than the Gronckle’s, allowing them to digest iron ore alongside stone as ammo for their fire shots. Their jaw is so strong that they can bite through cages designed to hold most other dragon species. They are even capable of flying while asleep, allowing them to strafe land-based opponents with their thick tails should they require rest.
9. Hideous Zippleback
They say two heads are better than one, and this proverb proves true in the dragon world. The Hideous Zippleback has several drawbacks compared to other dragons, such as its stumpy legs and small wings, which force it to primarily fight from the ground. However, its fire is one of the most unique of all dragons, making it among the most powerful animated characters.
The twin heads of the Zippleback work in tandem to use their fire. One head exhales a thick green mist that can cover an area large enough to conceal the Zippleback and disorient anyone caught within. The second head creates small sparks, so when the moment is right, it can ignite the gas cloud all at once.
Most dragons in media are portrayed as sleek, serpentine creatures that fly through the air with grace and speed. The Gronckle subverts this through its compact design and hilariously small wings, which make it look like a cross between an armored pig and a giant honeybee. The Gronckle may appear silly, but it is still a fearsome opponent.
While not as fast as their brethren, the wings of a Gronckle are comparable to a hummingbird, which allows them to fly backward, sideways, and hover. Their thick skin provides extra protection, and their breath weapon is a projectile made by super-heating rocks in their stomachs. However, Gronckles are not confrontational by nature and prefer to spend most of the day sleeping.
A scene-stealer in the movie about dragons and one of the most mysterious species, the Boneknapper, is so-named due to its habit of collecting bones. Since their scales are naturally weak, they scour the globe to find the perfect bones to craft into durable suits of armor. It is when they are assembling their armor that they are most dangerous, as they lose access to certain features until their set is complete.
The primary ability the Boneknapper loses is its roar, which can scatter small objects around it and attract mates. As such, it will spend years trying to claim its perfect bone, sneaking up on those who carry it in silence before descending from the sky. If it’s given what it wants, however, the Boneknapper becomes much friendlier.
12. Light Fury
Similar to Night Furies but not quite the same, or, as Hiccup describes them in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, they’re “more like a Bright… Fury.” The Light Fury dragons are slightly smaller but still very powerful close relatives of the Night Furies. They’re sleek and stealthy, which comes in handy due to their tendency to be skeptical of others.
Like Toothless, a Light Fury can fire explosive plasma blasts with great control. They can also utilize their cloaking abilities to fly through spaces without ever being detected. Though they’re incredibly rare and skittish dragons, they have a playful and endearing personality once they become comfortable with new friends.
The How to Train Your Dragon franchise has introduced us to a captivating world of dragons, each with its unique traits and abilities. From the formidable Night Fury to the whimsical Boneknapper, these dragons have left an indelible mark on the world of animation. As we eagerly anticipate the live-action reboot, we can’t help but celebrate the incredible dragons that have made this franchise one of DreamWorks’ finest accomplishments.