Dragons are back and better than ever in pop culture. From Smaug in The Hobbit to Drogon on the Game of Thrones, giant flying reptiles are populating our screens. And why shouldn't they? Who doesn't love a fire breathing monster, friend or foe, attacking from the sky?
These are the 7 very best, most awesome dragons all pop culture nerds should know that are also greatly underappreciated. Trust me, I'm a scientist. You won't fine a Game of Thrones dragon or Toothless on this list. These are the somewhat forgotten and ignored but way cooler fire breathing lizards of pop culture. Oh, and I am not including Charizard because he's insanely popular and somehow not really a dragon type in his normal form. How? I have no idea...
"Here by dragons!"
FALKOR THE LUCK DRAGON
Our first awesome dragon comes in the form of a friendly companion starring in the movie (and novel) The Neverending Story. Falkor is one of the true good and lovable dragons in pop culture. Isn't he just so cuddly?
Hero of The Neverending Story - Atreyu - rides the wise and incredible fast Falkor in an effort to stop the end of everything, basically. Falkor may not have too much screen time, and he may be a puppet, but he's all heart. What kid from the 80's DIDN'T want a Falkor to ride around on adventures?
If I didn't include Shenron, I know someone would bombard me with anime knowledge rants at Nerd Knights, so here he is!
My Japanese is rusty... Or, well, I know 0 Japanese. Shenron's original name is roughly "God Dragon", and it's an apt name. He is named after a mythological dragon who he shares attributes with on the show. He's a king, strong beast best known as the powerful monster summoned by all 7 of earth's Dragon Balls.
Shenron hangs out in the earth's core. You gather you dragon balls (tee hee). You summon him. And watch out! You've got power beyond your imagination. Wish for, maybe, a wallet with unending hundreds or something.
I have to be honest with everyone. This dragon is from Dungeons & Dragons. I know absolutely nothing about it. But I had this toy when I was a kid and, dammit, it was sweet. It apparently was one of the earliest D&D beast, showing up in the '77 monster manual.
It was a highly detailed, different looking dragon I could use to battle Transformers and Spider-Man as a kid. It had a lion head! It had a snake tail! It had bat wings! It was gold! When I was 5, I didn't need any complicated backstory. I just knew this thing was badass. It would be almost invincible. Almost.
Yes, I did just type out 'Vermithrax Pejorative' and no, that wasn't a mistake. Vermithrax Pejorative is a slightly obscure but entirely amazing beast from the 1981 film Dragonslayer. This Disney/Paramount movie is somewhat forgotten by time but, damn, that dragon is sweet.
The character design was done by ILM, the first time they worked on a movie not directly related to Mr. George Lucas, so you know this is special. The movie itself isn't great but that dragon is magnificent. It was apparently modeled after real life flying reptiles, the pterosaurs, and the care given to its creation shows. It looks real still. By golly, that was terrifying to a young THE Kurt Broz back in the mid-80's on home video. I surmise that's how Smaug should've looked.
Anyone remember the movie Dragonheart? No? Well, it wasn't bad and it had a cool dragon!
Draco is the last of his kind (of course) and strikes up an unlikely friendship (of course) with Dennis Quaid. Fake dragon slayings and some weird metaphysical heart connection ensue, and the result is some pretty good times. Enjoy the fun and ignore that some of the CGI doesn't hold up.
FIN FANG FOOM
C'mon, what OTHER comic book dragon is as ridiculous and as famous as Fin Fang Foom? Lockheed is ok. Dragon Man is fine. There are other dragons and dragon-like monsters roaming around but, yeah, Fin Fang Foom is THE definitive comic book dragon.
Fin Fang Foom first appeared in Strange Tales (above) but appeared in a super-villain guise later on. In classic comic book confusion, Fin Fang Foom is an alien who becomes a monster and later follows Buddhism. Don't ask. Just know that he's a big dragon who fights Avengers sometimes, and enjoy it.
"Ghidorah is just cool."
Source: Toho Productions.
Sure, you can certainly argue that Godzilla is a dragon. You can make a case that most of the original kaiju were dragons or dragon-like in some form. King Ghidorah is the ultimate kaiju dragon, though, because it looks like a classic dragon and it's pure evil.
Good old Ghidorah here (sometimes called Ghidrah) is by far the king of all pop culture dragons. Why? He's huge. He has 3 heads. He shoots gravity beams. He flies. He's destroyed entire civilizations and wiped planets clean of life. It can regenerate body parts. Plus, you know, it looks badass. Hell, it can fly around in space. There's not even air up there! Does it need air? No! It's been to Venus. Venus is like 900 degrees. Metal space probes melt there, but Ghidorah doesn't give more than one care about the heat.
The only monster in the universe more powerful than King Ghidorah is Godzilla. That's why this guy is the greatest pop culture dragon of all time. Ghidorah is just cool. What more do you need in a dragon?
Do you have a favorite pop culture dragon? Do you want to contest the differences between classical dragons and wyverns? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!