Dragons are powerful, savage beasts that rule the air and land, hoard gold, and burn knights alive in their armor… except when they’d rather play with 8-year-olds instead. There’s a whole movement of “nice” dragons that are tarnishing the reputation of real, hardworking evil dragons, and it’s got to stop. These are the 12 most horrifically kindly offenders.
1) Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon
The titular dragon is smart, fast, and not without his offensive capabilities, but he’s also the first dragon to be trained in DreamWorks’ charming CG movie. Obviously, that training was because he’s pretty friendly and approachable, all things considered. If he looked like Smaug I sincerely doubt Hiccup would have tried to repair his tail fin, and instead would have simply run away screaming and wetting himself. I’m not saying Toothless is completely non-threatening, but compared to most dragons he’s a sweetheart.
2) The Dragon from Shrek
This dragon is a pretty traditional dragon, plus an affinity for make-up. Sure, she guards Princess Fiona in her tower and has burned up several knights in her time (you can see their bones littering her treasure horde) but by the time Shrek and Donkey come around she’s clearly more interested in love than murder, and by the time she and Donkey hook up she’s a total softie. About the only danger she poses is if you’re a donkey that doesn’t want to have sex with a dragon.
3) Magellan from Eureeka’s Castle
Just look at this asshole. Why other dragons are hard at work rampaging through the countryside, stealing princesses, and frying knights, this jerk is chilling in a castle with his one stupid tooth and his pets. His tale can get mildly rambunctious, and his sneezes are so powerful they make Eureeka’s castle shake, but honestly the castle seems pretty structurally sound and I don’t anticipate one of Magellan’s sneezes causing a scaffolding to come loose and fall on Batly or Mr. Knack any time in the next 20 years at least.
4) Spike from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic
Spike is a baby dragon who is the chief assistant to a pony named Twilight Sparkle and he has a crush on a pony named Rarity. If you can find anything threatening in the above sentence, you’re lying to yourself. The My Little Pony Wiki says Spike is playful, helpful, sensitive, insecure, “dismissive of things he considers "girly" although his outward disdain is often a front”, and sleepy. In one episode, Spike turns into a more traditional dragon after ponies start giving him birthday gifts and he gets greedy, but he decides to be generous at the end and resume his toddler-esque stature. Spike is about as threatening as a Care Bear is threatening. It should be noted that Spike’s MLP Wiki page is terrifying in its length and specificity, but Spike himself is no threat to anybody.
5) Elliott from Pete’s Dragon
The star of the 1977 live-action/animated Disney movie of the same name, Pete isn’t threatening as much as he is annoying. His whole modus operandi is to help young boys in need, which sounds kind of threatening nowadays, but wasn’t necessarily at the time. His help mainly involves being invisible to everybody bu his boy of choice and occasional drunks, but he also knocks into things, plays pranks, and once in a while gets drunk. Elliott’s main threat is that by staying invisible to everybody but Pete, he is technically threatening to get Pete tossed into a psychiatric ward at some point, but that would take a sustained, consistent effort and for Pete to be kind of an idiot to continually mention his “imaginary” dragon friend, so this doesn’t seem particularly likely.
6) Everybody on Dragon Tales
The stars of the PBS cartoon Dragon Tales make My Little Pony’s Spike look like the badasses of Reign of Fire. What if a bunch of dragons were exactly like Spike but instead of once turning into a regular dragon that was mildly greedy they taught you about Hispanic culture? That’s Cassie, Ord, Zak, and Wheezie, the three dragons (Zak and Wheezie are two heads on a single body) of Dragon Tales in a nutshell. About the closest any of them comes to any kind of aggressive attack is Ord’s “Dragon Corn” maneuver, which is actually just Ord making popcorn with his fire breath. Oh no! This popcorn is too salty! These dragons are trying to raise my blood pressure slightly, help!
7) Mushu from Mulan
Unlike most of the dragons on this list, Mushu is mildly threatening. But since that threat is his incompetence and you’d have to be a member of Mulan’s family to be endangered by it, Mushu remains yet another non-menace. Mushu is the guardian spirit of Mulan’s family, although he blew his assignment at one point, getting himself demoted to shrine incense-burner and gong-ringer, which is pretty pitiful because that’s what living people are supposed to do. Even though he learns how to breathe fire by the end of Mulan, he’s still only about as threatening as a tiny Eddie Murphy would be.
8) Devon and Cornwall from Quest for Camelot
What’s less threatening than Eddie Murphy? Eric Idle and Don Rickles trying to wear the same sweater. That is more or less an apt description of Devon and Cornwall, the two-head dragon from the 1996 Warner Bros. movie. Even if they didn’t argue too much with each other to accomplish anything, they still can’t fly or breathe fire, and are constantly bullied by the other dragons. If you can make it through their musical number, though, you’ll understand the other dragons were completely justified in persecuting them.
9) Delbert the La Choy Dragon
Jim Henson created this proto-Muppet as a spokes-creature for La Choy-brand Chinese foods; that’s eventual director and voice of Yoda Frank Oz inside Delbert, although Henson is providing the voice. As you can see, Delbert is clumsy and has a small tendency to accidentally set things on fire, but not on purpose — he mainly just wants you to buy homogenized generic American version of Chinese cuisine. Believe me, if Delbert were threatening, I’m pretty sure the ‘60s housewife and her boy scout son would have let us know. Or at least given Delbert less skepticism about his damned canned chow mein.
10) Dudley the Dragon
The star of The Adventures of Dudley the Dragon is yet another attempt by children’s programming to besmirch the powerful and terrifying reputation of dragons worldwide. Dudley Is a dragon who awakes from hundreds of years of hibernation to find two 10-year-old kids; instead of eating them, like any animal waking up from hibernation would do, he instead follows them around while they teach him about environmentalism. OH, THE TERROR. Dudley has a goddamned teddy bear named Freddy Bear, goddammit. Sadly, Dudley’s biggest threat is that he may inspire other kids to try to wake up hibernating animals like bears to be friends with them, but since the show went off the air in 1999 and there haven’t been any Dudley the Dragon-related fatalities, I can only assume this was a failure.
11) The Reluctant Dragon
Where did the nice, friendly dragon archetype first originate? Chances are it was in an 1898 children’s story named “The Reluctant Dragon” by Kenneth Grahame. In it, a kid meets a dragon — a well-educated dragon who loves poetry but not eating people, sigh — the townspeople learn about said dragon and freak out. They hire St. George to slay the dragon, but the kid convinced George the dragon is a good dude and then they enact an elaborate fake battle between the two, which George wins, although he immediately admits the whole thing is a sham and the dragon is friendly, and then the townspeople are coo, so why the hell did they go through with the charade, I don’t know. Anyways, this asshole is the first to subvert the evil, badass dragon stereotype with his friendliness and education and not burning poor villagers alive, and it didn’t help when Disney turned it into a cartoon in 1941. I assume this wouldn’t have happened if publishers hadn’t rejected Grahame’s first title for the book, which was surely “The Race Traitor.”
12) Puff the Magic Dragon
Things Puff the Magic Dragon does according to the Peter, Paul and Mary song: 1) lives by the sea, 2) frolics in the autumn mist, 3) travels via boat, 4) roars out his name, and 5) slinks back into his cave to sulk after his young friend Jackie abandons him for cooler people and/or mythical creatures. Frankly, Puff’s biggest threat is hi long-rumored secret promotion of marijuana, but honestly, the way society is going it seems like Puff was less of a drug-fueled dissident and more of a mildly buzzed social prophet.