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"A cavalry? I'd rather have preferred a dragon."
Herger on the revelation of the "fire wyrm", The 13th Warrior

Even though Our Dragons Are Different, they are still awesome in whatever form. Therefore works where dragons are not important to the story will often throw in a dragon anyway, just for the hell of it.

In order to count for this trope the story cannot be about dragons, a dragon cannot be a major, or even secondary character. That includes being a MacGuffin, the Big Bad, or The Dragon (no relation). It has to be clear that a dragon isn't needed for the story, the writers just did it for Rule of Cool. Or if it's an adaptation of a work with no dragons at all, it counts no matter what role the dragons have now.

Sometimes it's justified by a Fantasy Kitchen Sink, but it's still this trope when it otherwise fits.

Compare Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha, Rent-A-Zilla, Dragons Up the Yin-Yang.

Examples of Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons include:


Anime and Manga

  • Mahou Sensei Negima has thrown in some dragons. The first one is a guardian in Library Island who apparently works as a watchman for Albireo Imma. The latter of the two dragons existed solely for Kaede to defeat while blindfolded. There's also the significantly less-powered (only having recently graduated from Muggle status) Yue taking a Gryphon-Dragon down with an ornamental dagger and Awesomeness By Analysis. At about the same time Kaede brought hers down, Setsuna and Asuna took another one down, as well. Fate also demonstrates an Offhand Backhand to kill one of those dragons that had been left with a Non-Lethal KO by the heroines. Dragons are pretty much the Worf of Negima. Though there is Vrixas Nagasha, which fought Jack Rakan to a standstill.
  • In Naruto, you can mold an element into a dragon-shaped projectile, for example Kakashi and Zabuza made two dragons made of water clash.
    • Sasuke has an attack in the manga that causes a small flame to travel a length of string. Apparently the anime adaptation took inspiration from this trope because the anime version of this attack sends a giant dragon made of fire along the length of string.
      • In fairness to the name, Dragon Flame Jutsu, when that small flame hits the target at the end of the string, they get lit up.
      • Kabuto's Sage Mode gives him draconic attributes.
  • In One Piece, the leader of the Revolutionary Army, Dragon is apparently only called so because it sounds cool.
    • In chapter 655, Luffy's crew encounters a real dragon.
  • In To Aru Majutsu no Index Touma has his arm cut off and after that he Mind Rapes his opponent into turning his arm stump into a dragon's head!
  • From Bleach, we have Toshiro Hitsugaya, who's zanpakuto can manifest into an ice dragon.
  • In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Envy takes the form of a dragon just before crossing the gate.
  • The hentai Dragon Pink, despite the title, has no dragons in any form.
  • Some of the most powerful Digimon belong to the "dramon" class, such as Imperialdramon and the Seadramon line. They are characterized as having traits associated with dragons, but not all of them look draconic; Birdramon looks like a big Toothy Bird, but does Kill It with Fire.


Comics

  • When Ron Marz took over writing Witchblade, his introductory arc (which was meant as a compelling jumping on point for new readers) pitted the hero against an evil cult within the Catholic Church intent on summoning a "living god" from another dimension. Given Witchblade's typical milieu - it's far from high fantasy - one would expect something bipedal and vaguely demonic or angelic, or more rarely, a Cthuluesque eldritch abomination. Nope, not this time. Just a straight-up D&D-style bat-winged dragon.
  • In The Uncanny X-Men during the early 80s, in the midst of a climactic battle between the X-Men and the Brood, Kitty Pryde's life is saved...by a small dragon who flies in out of nowhere, who later becomes Kitty's companion Lockheed and a popular fixture of the X-books.


Card Games

  • Magic: The Gathering has regularly featured Dragons. Typically they are Red cards, almost always have Flying, and are generally Red's most powerful individual creatures. Blue occasionally has Drakes, but they're getting rarer in recent editions.
    • Particularly impressive in two blocks: Innistrad is a gothic horror setting...with dragons, and Ravnica's dragons are extinct...except the ones that aren't, such as this one, which isn't even legendary.
  • Dragon Storm is an RPG collectable card game that features dragons as one of the playable character types.


Fanfic


Film -- Animated

  • When Maleficent turns into a dragon at the end of Sleeping Beauty. Even if the Disney version didn't originate that, it's likely an earlier version did it for this trope.
  • In another Disney animated feature, The Sword in the Stone, the wizard's duel culminates in Mad Madam Mim breaking her own rules, one being to not turn into anything make-believe, such as pink dragons, and turning into a purple dragon.


Film -- Live Action

  • The film Godzilla: Final Wars features a battle between the high-tech submarine, the Gotengo, and the Chinese dragon Kaiju, Manda. Manda is only there as yet another random monster to be featured in the movie and is quickly killed off at the beginning.
    • And then there's Godzilla's final battle against Monster X Keizer Ghidorah, which is also an homage to the classic "Godzilla VS King Ghidorah" battles.
    • Speaking of King Ghidorah, his appearances in Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla VS Gigan certainly count since the three-headed dragon is NOT the main focus in either film.
      • Manda also appears in Destroy All Monsters'.
  • Star Wars: Remember the krayt dragon skeleton from A New Hope? Purely there to add a little awesome. So was Boga, the feathered lizard-mount Obi-Wan rode in Revenge of the Sith. The Star Wars Expanded Universe, while usually trying to stay clear of obvious references to Earth animals and myths, has various species of dragon, many of them said to be the nonsentient offspring of Duinuogwuin, which are a strange people like ten-to-a-hundred meter long centipedes with wings, hands, organic cold fusion reactors, and the ability to live in deep space. They're also called Star Dragons, and although they almost never actually appear, they get mentioned as Noodle Incidents with some regularity.
  • "Alright guys, I'm not gonna lie to you. This is gonna get kinda weird... Two dragons."
  • Sucker Punch.
  • The Harry Potter film series takes the awesomeness of its source material's dragons up to 11. Specifically, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and even moreso (due to Visual Effects of Awesome) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
  • As the page quote shows, this is subverted and lampshaded in The 13th Warrior. It turned out the "fire wyrm" is just a cavalry with torches, and Herger said he would have preferred an actual dragon. Of course, given that the size of the fire wyrm in question meant it was comprised of literally hundreds of warriors, all mounted on horseback and moving independently, his preference for a straight-up lizard is understandable.


Literature

  • Although they've been integrated to the point that the story would end up very different without them, the dedications page of A Game of Thrones says something like: To my wife, who made me put the dragons in. So this thinking may have prompted their inclusion.
  • In The Dresden Files ' third book, Grave Peril, an elder dragon (think "minor god-level") named Ferrovax makes an appereance. He's only shown for one scene, in which he brings Harry to his knees with only half of his True Name (without even using magic, just raw willpower), receives a mysterious gift that will almost certainly be important in the future, then leaves. Word of God has it that he'll play a part in the final apocalyptic trilogy.
  • Duumvirate. One of Northberg's scientists decided to make dragons, just because he could.
  • In the Star Trek Enterprise Relaunch novels, a battle during the Romulan War takes place on Berengaria VII. Dragons show up to eat Romulans. There's no particular reason for it, but, hey, we're on Berengaria, previously established in throwaway lines of Star Trek: The Original Series as home of the dragons, so let’s have them eat people. Also in the Star Trek Novel Verse, Elias Vaughn's childhood history on Berengaria VII probably counts; he was apparently mauled by a dragon at one point. Vaughn had previously been said to originate there; eventually, this bit of trivia made an inevitable linkage to the dragons. Since Vaughn is the sort of character with a highly adventurous background, it's no surprise he apparently had dragon bites where other children had bruised knees. See: Star Trek Deep Space Nine relaunch.
  • In the Shadowrun novels and associated table-top RPG, dragons are rare, but enough people found Dunkelzahn awesome to get him elected President by popular vote.
    • There's also the plotline behind Night's Dawn, where Alamais the dragon is the main antagonist, but just shows up out of nowhere to be killed by laser bombardment, having previously been seen only in the prologue as part of an ambush. This troper had a bit of a Deadpan Snarker moment when asked by a friend about the book, comparing it to the ending of the Shadows over Mystara videogame. Its really more of a 'battle between brothers' kind of novel with the non-literal dragon being the primary story element.
    • And then there's Lofwyr, the dragon in charge of a megacorp who pretty much coined the phrase "never, ever cut a deal with a dragon."
  • The Eyes of the Dragon has no real dragon in it. The dragon of the title comes from a stuffed and mounted dragon head that has peep-hole eyes. Any peep-hole would have done just as well, but it's more awesome with dragons.
    • There is a real dragon! It dies in the backstory, but it was there.
  • Deltora Quest consists of three series. In Australia, they're numbered. Everywhere else, the third is titled Dragons of Deltora... and is filled with both awesome and dragons. And especially awesome due to dragons. Previously the series had been somewhat unique in its lack of the things, despite the High Fantasy Meets JRPG setting....
  • Dragons are only important to one or two Discworld books, but they're mentioned quite frequently (especially in the Night Watch books, since Sam Vimes happens to be married to a dragon breeder). Of course, on Discworld, Our Dragons Are Different...
  • Naomi Novik seems to approve. Her Temeraire series could be roughly summed up as: Napoleonic Wars WITH DRAGONS.
  • Dragon Slippers. yeah, no such think as dragons. you just keep thinking that, Creel...granted, the dragons have been in hiding for the past 300+ years.
    • plus, in book two, no one's worried about the war with Citatie until they discover the army is mounted on DRAGONS.
  • For most of the Harry Potter series, dragons are added primarily for the awesome (they appear only as plot devices).
  • This is the entire premise of The Crown Colonies series: colonial New England with Dragons. And zombies. And muskets are fired by magic.
  • The creature on most of the Vlad Taltos cover arts is supposed to be a jhereg -- a two-legged, two-winged flying reptile -- but is invariably given an extra pair of forearms and dragon-like appearance for the artwork. There are dragons in Dragaera, but they do not look like your average western dragon. So the cover art depicts an animal that doesn't actually exist in Dragaera, simply because the publishers wanted to invoke this trope. One supposes that "Instant Awesome, Just Add Jheregs" wouldn't have the same ring to it.
  • The first book in the Alex Verus series makes a passing reference to a prophecy made by a dragon. The dragon itself makes no appearance, but it does help the prophecy stand out against the less certain, probability-based divinations that are the norm for the setting.
  • The Wheel of Time - thus far, no Dragon of any sort has materialized except the "Dragon Reborn", a male Channeler meant to fight the Dark One. His emblem is a lizardlike dragon, but no-one has any idea what it is, only that it's his emblem. The male half of the Aes Sedai symbol has become negatively associated with the Drgaon Reborn, and conflated with the Dark One. There's no real reason for either of them to be in, except this trope.


Live Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have been known to throw dragons in for the hell of it. A dragon flew out of the portal created by Glory in the season 5 finale of Buffy, and Angel fights a dragon (offscreen) in its series finale (also its season 5 finale, interestingly enough).
  • In Stargate SG-1, they have to deduce a dragon's name as part of a test. Vala suggests they start guessing and names it "Darrell", while Cam throws in "Smokey".
  • Tic-Tac-Dough: Literally, as part of the gane show's Luck-Based Mission Bonus Round. The objective was for the winning contestant to find, on a 3-by-3 game board, dollar amounts adding up to at least $1,000, or the words "TIC" and "TAC" before uncovering a space with a computer-animated dragon to win the cash and a prize package; finding the dragon ended the game immediately with nothing won.
  • In Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger and its American adaptation, the main team pilots Humongous Mecha based on Stock Dinosaurs. The TropeNaming Sixth Rangers pilot a dragon-styled mecha. Said Sixth Rangers became Ensemble Darkhorses With the one that lived becoming The Hero in later seasons. Deny the correlation as coincidence at your peril!


Music

  • The name of the band DragonForce. They have a couple songs about dragons, but their name could have been anything, as the variety of Heavy Mithril bands show. And most of their songs are about glorious battles to the end. Dragons are hardly ever mentioned. But again, it's a cool name.
  • Summoning put a dragon on the cover of their album Let Mortal Heroes Sing Your Fame.
  • The music video for Shine on Me by Chris Dane Owens. Along with every other fantasy stereotype or image known to man.
  • I Fight Dragons
  • Jimmy Page, of Led Zeppelin fame, was noted for wearing what was and will always be the coolest onstage costume of all time, the Dragon Suit.
  • The cover of the self-titled Asia Album.
  • For no apparent reason, Chris Squire, bassist of Yes, sometimes wears a robe with a dragon on at shows.


Tabletop RPGs

  • In Exalted, Elementals gain draconic forms when they breach a certain threshold of power, regardless of what their original form was. There's no real reason for this; Word of God says that they are emulating the ideal of the Five Elemental Dragons, who, while not elementals themselves, were the basic template that elementals were designed off of. But we all know the real reason.


Toys

  • The Kardas Dragon, Kanohi Dragon, and Makuta Miserix in Bionicle.

Video Games

  • Since so many Video Game RPGs have dragons included as monsters for this trope, it would be easier to list exceptions.
    • Dragon Quest I has a dragon kidnap a princess. Since that makes it the apparent Big Bad, it does not fit this trope. Hence it is a quest to fight the dragon.
      • More a case of playing with the trope, as the Big Bad is known to not be a dragon right off the bat, but the Dragonlord, who can command dragons. Rescuing the princess isn't even required (though it helps a lot in getting one necessary quest item). In the NES english version, beating the Dragonlord in his human form makes him turn into a dragon, but the original Japanese Famicom version has his pet dragon attacking you after you kill him, which makes slightly more or less sense depending on who's playing. Future games in the series don't even bother with the dragons as big-time enemies, just high-level mooks.
    • The Breath of Fire series is another exception, as the main character is always a human-dragon hybrid of some sort.
      • That doesn't mean that you don't fight dragons. In fact, every game in the series has you fighting against your own kind for some reason or another, and they are always more powerful than you.
  • Final Fantasy VI got a sidequest based on, yeah, dragons (some of which look like dinosaurs). There isn't any background lore on them nor are any of them directly related to the story (some of them are found in the last dungeon, but they can easily be skipped).
    • The paper-thin background lore is that Crusader, the strongest of the Espers, was sealed during the ancient War of the Magi using the power of eight dragons. These "Crusader" dragons are vicious, but defeating them will get you the Crusader magicite, the only Esper that can teach Merton/Meltdown. Which really isn't much of a reward, but hey.
    • The Bahamut summon that appears in almost every FF game.
    • Then there are the Dragoons, lance-using warriors with a dragon theme and one of the most popular jobs/classes.
      • The exception to the dragon theme is Kimahri Ronso, because he's one of the Catfolk (and also part Blue Mage.)
  • Altered Beast allows players to become a dragon in level 2. Also, two of the bosses are dragons.
  • In The Elder Scrolls, the only games in which dragons of some sort appear without playing a major part in the story is Daggerfall, with the small and actually-not-dragons dragonlings (an actual dragon is in the game files, but it does not seem to have been implemented). The other three games with dragons - Redguard (the super-weapon that set-up the situation and Tiber Septim's loyal servant), Oblivion (an avatar of a God that shows up to rescue the day after desperate measures are taken) and Skyrim (the Big Bad) - all have them as important parts of the story, and so does not quite fit this trope. That the God of Time near-universally amongst Tamriel's peoples is a Dragon God of Time may have something to do with this trope, though...
  • In E.V.O., if you eat a red crystal you temporarily get a powerful form depending on your current animal type. Naturally, if you're a bird, that temporary form is a Dragon (and, arguably, *THE* strongest form in the game).
    • The red crystal forms are fixed, you just have to be a bird to reach the dragon one (and the gargoyle one). Temporarily turning into one via green crystal works too, since the effect doesn't wear off inside the cloud maze for some reason.
  • In the infamous MMORPG Maple Story, there's a 3rd job class that is pretty much dedicated to this trope. The Dragon Knight. Said class's skills ALL INVOLVE DRAGONS in some way or another. Dragon Crusher, Dragon Fury, Dragon Roar, Dragon Blood, etc. These attacks are arguably some of the flashiest skills in the game, which is a huge motivation point for those who went for the extreemely boring Spearman class and want to keep going forward.
  • The Dragon-type in Pokémon. They are arguably the handiest Pokemon to own since they resist Fire, Water, Grass, and Electric attacks, which are common in almost every party. Not only that, but they have some high base stats as well.
    • As a counterbalance, they are weak to the incredibly common Ice type and to their own type.
      • Kingdra and Palkia are Dragon/Water types, contering the Dragon-type's Ice weakness.
      • As of Gen 5, Reshiram as well, being the game's first pure Dragon/Fire, takes normal damage from Ice moves.
    • Some non-Dragon type look like dragons as well, like Charizard and Sceptile. In fact, one of the breeding classes is called the Dragon egg group (which the aforementioned belong to).
    • Although the trope is later averted in Pokemon Emerald, Diamond & Pearl, and Platinum, where the plot centers around a Dragon-type legendary Pokemon.
    • Of course it's a guarantee that all dragon-type Pokemon are ridiculously badass. Even Altaria, kinda.
      • Altaria is the most badass Pokemon EVER. Altered Form Giratina is debatable.
    • Dragon type trainers are known for being very badass. Iris, Clair, Lance, Drake, Drayden..
  • The Heroes of Might and Magic series routinely has all sorts of dragons among the most powerful (and expensive) creatures available. The 5th entry even turned all gods (including the evil one) into dragons, with the units being the offspring of the gods. And not to forget the Dragon Utopia, a treasure hoard guarded by, yes, dragons.
  • Ridley in Metroid Fusion. While he is a major character in the series, Fusion is one of the few games in the series that doesn't involve the Space Pirates in plot-related role, so he seems a little out of place.
    • In the beginning of the game when you are first exploring the vessel, you see the frozen corpse of the Ridley from Super Metroid. Later in the game, the X parasite takes Ridley's DNA, leaving the corpse's shell.
  • The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker features Valoo, an ancient sky spirit/dragon. One of the game's first dungeons is all about figuring out what's wrong with him, the first boss you fight is torturing him, and farther into the game he repays the favor by roasting Ganon in his own tower, which is a huge Crowning Moment of Awesome for him.
  • One Word: FLONNEZILLA!
  • The Shining series is chock-full of dragons, playable or otherwise, and they're almost always among the strongest characters. Shining Soul introduced an entire new species, Dragonutes, to the canon.
  • Custom Robo has the Dragon Gun (and its cousin, the Wyrm Gun), which is dragon-shaped. If that wasn't enough, it shoots dragon-shaped bullets.
  • Dragon Age, despite the name, has only one true adult dragon, as an optional fight. The only other Dragonkin in the game are very young and small, or a shapeshifted witch, and an Archdemon.
  • You fight a slow, slothful zombie dragon at the beginning of Demons Crest on the SNES, a dragon figures into the backstory, and Firebrand's Demon Fire has a dragon-shaped appearance.
  • Earthbound. The extremely rare "Bag of Dragonite" item allows you to actually turn into a dragon and deal massive amounts of damage to enemies. Too bad there's only about five in the entire game.
  • In Touhou Project, the God of Gensokyo is simply referred to as The Dragon. Theory goes that Hong Meiling is a Chinese dragon in girl form; she's one of the very few Youkai whose exact species isn't identified by ZUN, and thematically she references Chinese dragons in a number of ways.
  • Mega Man X4 had Magma Dragoon, a Maverick Hunter-turned-traitor who destroyed an entire city and got an entire army organization blamed... just so that he could fight the heroes. For extra coolness, his moveset was based off Akuma.
  • Bug!! had the titular character's ride, a dragon-fly. As in, a dragonfly with a dragon's head and fire breath! Unfortunately, you only got to use said dragon-fly in the ring Bonus Level.
  • Yoshi from Super Mario Bros., contrary to popular belief, is not a dinosaur, but actually a dragon.
  • Fate/stay night sure references dragons a lot for an expansive continuity that continues absolutely 0 actual dragons in any story. Dragon killing swords, dragon slayers, ranks of phantasmal beasts, the difficulty in summoning dragons, inability to ride them, dragon tooth soldiers, Caster's Golden Fleece that she can't use and has absolutely 0 use in the story... Oh, and apparently awhile back a bored dragon sat around the temple and taught the monks stuff. There are none in the sequel either and the current projects they're working on are Tsukihime 2 (vampires) and a completely new visual novel about demons. Still no dragons. The dragon is also symbolic of the house of Pendragon - the background mentions that Arturia would be weak against "anti-dragon" weapons, as Pendragon means "child of the dragon".
    • Unless you count the mana-circuit-eating dragon from the anime that replaced the H scene.
  • The Xtended mods for the X-Universe series adds the "Shivan Dragon", a large (it's about 100 meters in wingspan) black dragons that flies around in space, shoots lasers from its mouth, and attacks everything in sight. The dragons have no real impact on the player or the rest of the universe except for chance encounters in border sectors, or if the player owns stations in Unknown Sectors, where the dragons set up nests.


Web Animation

  • Homestar Runner didn't have a dragon until someone asked Strong Bad if he could draw one. Thus, Trogdor was born.
    • And the "S Is For Sucks" Dragon.
    • In The King of Town's Very Own Quite Popular Cartoon Show The Knight tries to use a dragon as one of many methods to deodorize the Poopsmith


Web Comics


Web Originals

  • There was a story arc in Avatar Adventures revolving around dragons. It was awesome.


Western Animation


Real Life

  • How else do you think Figment became the mascot of Epcot? Heck, his origins can actually be traced to an attraction for the shelved Disneyland concept Discovery Bay, a Steampunk land, that had an attraction hosted by a Dreamfinder-like character who, among other cool things, bred dragons as a hobby.
  • Speaking of theme parks, "Dueling Dragons" at Universal Studios Orlando, anyone?
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