Adventure Movies

20 Best Dragon Movies Of All Time

February 7, 202419 Mins Read


  • Dragon movies have remained popular throughout the years, showcasing the thrilling and terrifying potential of these mythical creatures on the big screen.
  • While dragons were traditionally depicted as threats to be vanquished, modern dragon films explore their misunderstood nature and their potential to become allies to the heroes.
  • Animated dragon movies, like
    Raya and the Last Dragon
    Flight of the Dragons
    , offer unique and magical storytelling experiences that capture the essence of these creatures.

While many films focus on memorable mythical beasts, dragon movies have proven that the colossal fire-breathing lizards of legend make for some of the best cinematic experiences. Giant dinosaur-like creatures with huge leathery wings and the ability to breathe fire are certainly exciting additions to any story, and it is not hard to see why dragons have been been the focus of tales for centuries — a trend that continued with the invention of cinema and birth of filmmaking. The best dragon movies showcase all the wonderful, thrilling, and terrifying ways these beasts can be used on the big screen.

Old stories would often depict dragons as a fearsome threat to the kingdom that needed to be vanquished by heroic knights. Certainly, there are still plenty of movies that play on the destructive nature of dragons. However, dragons in movies can also be depicted as misunderstood creatures and even allies to the heroes. Epic fantasy adventures like Harry Potter have dragons, as do family-friendly fun like Shrek. From fairy tales to medieval adventures to magical epics, these dragon movies use the beasts to their greatest potential.


The Top 10 Coolest Dragons In Movies & TV Shows, Ranked

Who doesn’t love a good dragon? Dragons are as timeless in world folklore as they are in pop culture. Here are the 10 coolest movie and TV dragons.

20 Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings (2021)

The MCU’s Origin Story Features A Legendary And Heroic Dragon

Shang-Chi awakens the Great Protector in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Given how much the MCU has expanded over the years, perhaps it was only a matter of time before a dragon was thrown into the mix. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is an MCU origin story that is initially a somewhat grounded martial arts action movie, but there eventually are more fantastical elements introduced — including an epic dragon.

As part of the legend at the center of the movie, a Chinese dragon known as the Great Protector sealed an evil creature known as the Dweller-in-Darkness inside a cave. When Shang-Chi’s villainous father Wenwu frees the Dweller-in-Darkness in the movie’s climax, the Great Protector returns to help Shang-Chi. The bloated CGI finale is considered the weakest aspect of the movie, but Shang-Chi is a top-tier Phase 4 film that helped introduce a fun new hero into the MCU. Three years later, fans are still waiting for news on Shang-Chi 2.

Watch on Disney+

19 Raya And The Last Dragon (2021)

A Disney Adventure About A Dragon Who Is Humanity’s Last Hope

Raya and the Last Dragon

Release Date
March 5, 2021

Carlos López Estrada , Don Hall

Awkwafina , Kelly Marie Tran , Thalia Tran , Daniel Dae Kim , Alan Tudyk , Izaac Wang , Ross Butler , Patti Harrison , Gemma Chan , Sandra Oh , Benedict Wong , Lucille Soong

112 minutes

Disney jumped into the dragon storytelling genre with Raya and the Last Dragon. This animated movie about dragons takes place in a fantasy world where humans and dragons coexisted. When a dark force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. When the darkness returns, a young human warrior sets out to find the last dragon who can save them.

Raya and the Last Dragon is an exciting and breathtaking adventure, featuring some incredible animated action sequences. It is also a rare story in which dragons are seen as protectors and allies to humans from the beginning. This sets up the wonderful friendship that is at the heart of the movie between Raya and the dragon Sisu. Though not a huge Disney hit, critics were much kinder to the dragon film.

Watch on Disney+

18 Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)

Regé-Jean Page, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris Pine, Sophia Lillis, and Justice Smith in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

While the first attempt to bring the popular game Dungeons & Dragons to the big screen ended in disaster, this new take on the material made for a wildly fun adventure fantasy. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves cast of characters make up a ragtag group of heroes who unwittingly unleash a powerful evil and must find a way to save the world.

As Honor Among Thieves is a Dungeons and Dragons movie, there are dragons and other wonderful fantasy creatures thrown into the story, many of which fans of the game will recognize. This includes a memorable sequence with the heroes fleeing from a hilariously overweight dragon. It all adds to the wonderful sense of humor and clever action set pieces that make this a winning movie. Though it wasn’t the box office smash that some were hoping for, there is still hope for Dungeons & Dragons 2.

Watch on Prime Video

17 Merlin (1998)

The Television Miniseries Brought Fantasy Storytelling To The Small Screen

Sam Neill with a sword in the snow in the 1998 fantasy film Merlin.

Technically, Merlin is not a movie; it was a made-for-TV miniseries featured on NBC in 1998. However, given its quality and following, it deserves some recognition. Some viewers argue that the scene in the film where Merlin’s love Nimue is sacrificed to a dragon is the best scene in the miniseries. Whether or not that is true, it brought dragons to primetime television decades before Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon.

Merlin was nominated for six Emmy Awards and four Golden Globes. Its biggest accomplishment, however, was luring so many new fans to the fantasy genre. Filled with drama and magic and loosely based on real-world historical events, Merlin served as a stepping stone toward the influx of fantasy productions in mainstream media, paving the way for television shows like Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and Supernatural. Fantasy fans may also be familiar with the show’s sequel, Merlin’s Apprentice.

16 Flight Of The Dragons (1982)

The Animated Dragon Movie That Does A Lot With A Little

Two dragons in rubble in Flight of the Dragons

Some of the best dragon movies are animated, which makes perfect sense. It hasn’t always been possible to capture the majesty, magic, and even brutality of dragons on the big screen, especially prior to the dawn of CGI. Take The Flight of the Dragons, for example. Released in 1982, it combines star voice-acting talents like John Ritter and James Earl Jones and pieces of fantasy tomes like The Flight of Dragons and The Dragon and the George to create an animated treat for all ages.

Newcomers to the film should not let its underwhelming cover art deter them from seeing it. It features the same dramatic and gorgeous yet somehow gritty fantasy style used in movies like The Last Unicorn. It is a rare type of film that simply isn’t made anymore.

15 Eragon (2006)

An Adaptation Of The Beloved Young Adult Fantasy

A promotional image from the 2006 movie Eragon.


Release Date
December 15, 2006

Stefen Fangmeier

Jeremy Irons , Rachel Weisz , Ed Speleers , Djimon Hounsou , Robert Carlyle , Sienna Guillory , John Malkovich , Garrett Hedlund , Joss Stone

103 minutes

A solid mid-2000s dragon movie that viewers of all ages can enjoy, Eragon is an adaptation of the young adult novel of the same name by Chrisopher Paolini. Eragon is the classic tale of a young boy fighting to defend his people and home against invaders with a high-fantasy twist. Indelibly bonded to a dragon known as Saphira, the two develop a kinship as they quest to thwart impending evils.

Eragon was a celebrated children’s novel, but it didn’t translate all that well to film, with poor critical and commercial reception tanking the Eragon franchise before it got going. Still, it’s enjoyable enough for younger audiences, and it may have fared a bit better had it not come on the heels of the titanic Lord of the Rings trilogy. Luckily, a Disney+ adaptation of the Eragon books will hopefully do it more justice.

Watch on Disney+

14 Dragonslayer (1981)

A Gory And Horrific Fantasy Adventure

Peter MacNicol stabbing a dragon in the back of the head in Dragonslayer


Release Date
June 26, 1981

Matthew Robbins

Peter MacNicol , Caitlin Clarke , Ralph Richardson , John Hallam , Peter Eyre , Sydney Bromley

109 Minutes

While actor Peter MacNicol may distance himself from his 1981 dragon movie, Dragonslayer still maintains a cult following. Between its general weirdness, darkness, and “saving the damsel in distress” theme, Dragonslayer recalls the archetypal Arthurian tale, as well as the story of David’s triumph over Goliath, in more ways than one.

The movie featured a surprising amount of gore for its subject, incorporating some borderline horror elements into its backbone. Today’s dragon fans might see it and consider its special effects both too outdated and too dark, but the film was a huge achievement in cinematography and special effects at the time, managing to portray a dragon on the big screen in a way no other film had quite accomplished.

Watch on Pluto TV

13 Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

The Second Movie In Peter Jackson’s Trilogy Introduced Terrifying Flying Beasts

A Fell Beast in the 2002 high fantasy film Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s fantasy series made for one of the most popular and acclaimed movie trilogies of all time. What was so successful about them was how they were able to blend such fantastical creatures and beings with well-rounded and interesting characters. Yet as compelling as Frodo and Sam were, the introduction of the unsettling flying beasts ridden by the Nazgul, in The Two Towers certainly stood out.

The Nazgul scenes from Return of the King are even more mesmerizing, especially with the additional scenes from the Lord of the Rings extended editions. While the iconic moment between the Witch King and Eowyn definitely deserves mentioning, it was in Osgiliath where viewers first glimpse the fell beasts that the Nazgul rode while hunting the One Ring. Amid the creatures’ deafening wing-swishing and ear-splitting cries, audiences could almost smell their stench and feel their rancid breath.

Watch on Max

12 Pete’s Dragon (1977)

A Modern-Day Friendship Between A Boy And A Dragon

Pete and Eliot from the Original Pete's Dragon eating apples

Though it is one of the more lighthearted dragon movies, Pete’s Dragon is not without its darkness. Between the abuse of a backwoods adopted family and the threat of having his dragon murdered, mutilated, and eaten as magical medicine, some moments might disturb younger viewers. However, the main message of the film is uplifting and there are memorable musical numbers that feature performances by Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, and Charlie Callas, who voiced the goofy animated dragon, Elliott.

The lovable nature of Elliott, combined with his round, hand-drawn features and support of Pete, made him a favorite among children and adults alike. While the 2016 Pete’s Dragon remake took a few liberties, it was ultimately received as a superior modernization of the original.

Watch on Disney+

11 Shrek (2001)

The DreamWorks Animated Comedy Subverts Dragons And Other Fairy Tale Tropes

Donkey and Dragon arriving at the church in Shrek.


Release Date
May 18, 2001

Vicky Jenson , Andrew Adamson

90 minutes

The Shrek movies have always had a fun quality of playing around with the tropes of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. This includes its titular character, a grumpy ogre who ends up being the hero of the story and the one who the princess falls in love with in the end. The movie also has a twist on the classic trope of the princess stuck in a tower guarded by a dragon, with a rare female dragon being part of the fun.

Not only did Shrek feature a pink, eye-lashed dragon that wore lipstick, but the movie also saw her fall in love with a talking donkey. Dragon in Shrek begins as a menace and then evolves into a love-struck punchline. In later films in the Shrek series, Dragon becomes a serious love interest and even ends up making donkey-dragon hybrids with Shrek’s sidekick.

Watch on Peacock

10 Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019)

Godzilla Meets His Match With This Three-Headed Dragon

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Release Date
May 29, 2019

Michael Dougherty

Millie Bobby Brown , Vera Farmiga , Kyle Chandler , O’Shea Jackson Jr. , Bradley Whitford , Randy Havens , Charles Dance , Aisha Hinds , Sally Hawkins , Ken Watanabe , Thomas MIddleditch

132 Minutes

Godzilla’s status as a kind of dragon is up for debate, but King Ghidorah, the central antagonist of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, definitely qualifies. A massive, hydra-like creature capable of breathing lightning, Ghidorah is every bit as threatening as the titular monster. The movie itself was a big step forward in establishing the MonsterVerse with more details on Monarch and its mysterious past.

However, those who are not into the lore of the franchise could simply enjoy the big monster action of the sequel. While he may not be a particularly deep or complex villain, King Ghidorah is a perfect fit for the film, and he’s an utter terror on-screen. Plus, thanks to his character design, his presence solidifies Godzilla: King of the Monsters as a top-tier dragon movie.

Watch on Hulu

9 Maleficent (2014)

The Sleeping Beauty Live-Action Movie Recreates The Dragon Sequence

A dragon breathing fire in Maleficent.


Release Date
May 30, 2014

Robert Stromberg

1h 37m

In 2014, Angelina Jolie portrayed one of the most famous Disney movie villains in a new light in Walt Disney Pictures’ Maleficent, and she was accompanied by one of the most striking dragons ever added to a film. It features a fantastic battle scene with a dragon, as well as magic at every turn. In addition to giving a villain her humanity and a plausible backstory, it also featured a heroine at the helm in a clever retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story.

Sleeping Beauty itself also features a moment in its climax in which Maleficent turns into a threatening dragon, making for an exciting early Disney action sequence. However, seeing the moment recreated with some fun new twists as a big-budget action sequence is unforgettable for Disney fans.

Watch on Disney+

8 Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire (2005)

The Fourth Harry Potter Movie Features A Memorable Dragon Despite Significant Changes From The Book

A dragon breathing fire in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Release Date
November 16, 2005

Mike Newell

Daniel Radcliffe , Emma Watson , Rupert Grint , Tom Felton , Robbie Coltrane , Ralph Fiennes , Michael Gambon , Brendan Gleeson , Gary Oldman , Timothy Spall , Alan Rickman , Maggie Smith

157 Minutes

There are countless memes for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that highlight all the big details from the books left out of the movies. A key component of the Triwizard Tournament is the dragon battle. While the movie version glossed over the deeper lore, in the book readers encounter several varieties of dragons. Creatures make up the most amazing moments of Goblet of Fire, but the dragon scenes were such huge fan favorites that there is even a dragon ride in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Harry Potter universe is not limited to one book or film when it comes to dragons, either. Gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid adopted and hatched a dragon, Norbert, from an egg in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione ride a Ukrainian Ironbelly during one of the best dragon scenes in the franchise. However, when it comes to the movies, Goblet of Fire does feature a memorable sequence that serves as a reminder of the dangerous beasts in this world.

Watch on Max

7 Willow (1988)

The Fantasy Cult-Favorite Includes A Memorable Two-Headed Dragon

The two-headed dragon from the 1988 movie Willow.


Release Date
May 20, 1988

Jean Marsh , Val Kilmer , Joanne Whalley , Patricia Hayes , Warwick Davis

126 minutes

Willow is a beloved fantasy movie that features some charming practical monster effects. While these moments were more convincing in 1988 than they are today, they still hold an endearing quality. The scene where Willow kicks a hatching two-headed dragon into a moat only to witness it grow and devour humans is a particularly memorable scene and perhaps more effective than some modern CGI creations.

Although Willow can only be called a modest box office success, like many fantasy films, it still has a large and loyal following. Between its weird creatures and Warwick Davis’s reluctant yet steadfast heroics, it still appeals to audiences today. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and spawned the short-lived Disney+ sequel series.

Watch on Disney+

6 Reign Of Fire (2002)

A Futuristic World Where Dragons Take Over

A dragon breathing fire at helicopters in Reign of Fire

Dragon movies are typically set in ancient history or a sword-and-sorcery medieval-inspired setting, making the 2002 futuristic film Reign of Fire a particularly exciting take on fantasy. Not only was the early 2000s dragon movie an entertaining post-apocalyptic film that predated the current demand for dystopian media, but it also endangered the entire human race in a unique way.

Even though the premise is a bit laughable, the movie used it to create and unique and exciting dystopian action movie. The visuals of a war against dragons in a live-action movie were impressive and thrilling, especially in a sequence where the heroes HALO jump to attack the beasts. The dragon movie Reign of Fire won a Festival de Cine de Sitges Award and was nominated for a Saturn Award. It was also developed into a video game.

5 The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013)

The Titular Villainous Dragon Steals The Show In The Middle-earth Adventure

While there is a consensus that The Hobbit movies stretched the story too thin, Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the greedy dragon Smaug was a highlight of the entire trilogy. The dragon’s special effects, haughty persona, and lust for gold and vengeance were palpable on-screen, and Smaug’s sharp reptilian features, cunning golden eyes, and velvety-turned-murderous voice blend together to create a fearsome, wicked creature like the world has never known.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was a critical success as well as a box office hit, earning $958 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). Smaug would return in the third movie to show his destructive force, but it is his slow-burn reveal in the second movie that really made him a memorable and menacing villain.

Watch on Prime Video

4 Spirited Away (2001)

Studio Ghibli’s Fantasy Features A Complex And Conflicted Dragon

Chihiro Ogino standing with Haku the dragon in Spirited Away

Spirited Away

Release Date
July 20, 2001

Rumi Hîragi , Daveigh Chase , Miyu Irino , Jason Marsden , Aoi Nakamura , Bob Bergen

125 Mins

One of the best representations of an Asian dragon in film is Haku, the River Spirit in Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away. Like many Miyazaki characters, Haku is a blend of light and dark, battling his hunger for power against his desire to be a good person. In dragon form, he obeys his mistress, the witch Yubaba, while still fighting to protect the protagonist of the film, Chihiro. Ultimately, it is Chihiro’s story, and it is she who saves them both in the end.

Most of Studio Ghibli’s movies are so magical, yet show that these types of stories can still have complex and interesting characters. The film has collected enough critical acclaim to prove its mettle, and it’s earned enough audience approval to solidify it as an all-time great. It has made over $289 million around the globe (via Box Office Mojo) and rapidly became one of the highest-grossing movies in the history of Japanese filmmaking.

Watch on Max

3 How To Train Your Dragon (2010)

An Animated Epic About Dragons And Humans Finding Peace

How to Train Your Dragon

Release Date
March 10, 2010

Dean DeBlois , Chris Sanders

Jay Baruchel , Gerard Butler , Craig Ferguson , America Ferrera , Jonah Hill , Christopher Mintz-Plasse

1h 38m

While children’s novels don’t typically translate all that well to the silver screen, one major exception is How to Train Your Dragon. The 2010 Dreamworks Animation feature scored a rousing approval from critics and launched an entire franchise of merchandise, video games, TV shows, and sequels. It tells the story of a Viking community that fears and battles dragons and the one boy who is brave enough to make friends with the beasts.

The touching story of a nobody who becomes the most important person in a community due to his compassion and conviction, How to Train Your Dragon is both hilarious and moving. Its dragons are wildly imaginative with different breeds and types. Toothless, the film’s central dragon, combines the traditional qualities of a flying, fire-breathing dragon with new traits such as cat and dog-like behavior, making him the most coveted dragon on Earth.

Watch on FreeVee

2 The Neverending Story (1984)

The Adorable And Kind Falcor Is The Highlight Of This Fantasy Favorite

The little boy and Falcor looking at each other in The NeverEnding Story

The Neverending Story

Release Date
July 20, 1984

Wolfgang Petersen

Patricia Hayes , Noah Hathaway , Barret Oliver , Sydney Bromley , Gerald McRaney , Tami Stronach

94 minutes

The most beloved creature in The Neverending Story, this flying, smiling luck dragon exhibited so much passion and positivity about Atreyu’s quest. Falcor, the luck dragon, is modeled more closely after a Chinese dragon than a European one, but most viewers remember him as a giant, shiny puppy who liked children. It was one of the most iconic movie dragons that was lovable instead of scary.

His enormous brown eyes and fuzzy fur made him an adorable beast and his kind heart further enriched him to younger audiences. While the fantasy story may be better remembered by older viewers, there are many that introduce this nostalgic favorite to younger generations, earning Falcor new fans all the time.

1 Dragonheart (1996)

A Dragon And A Knight Form A Partnership


Release Date
May 31, 1996

Rob Cohen

Dennis Quaid , Sean Connery , Dina Meyer , Pete Postlethwaite

Dragonheart is the story of Draco, a dragon who dared to share his heart to help keep a human prince alive. Unfortunately, his shared heart was wasted on a cruel tyrant, leading Draco to lose his faith in humanity until partnering with Dennis Quaid’s scheming, dragon-slaying ex-knight. Draco was a rare talking dragon with sarcastic commentary and a curmudgeonly persona which was made even better with Sean Connery as the voice actor.

The fantasy story has a lot of fun with a mix of genres, including the fantasy drama, the medieval buddy movie, and the action-adventure. The movie even ended on a surprisingly bittersweet note, that helped to earn Draco a reputation as a truly heroic movie dragon that made these intimidating beasts worth cheering for.

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