Dragons are fascinating creatures that have been a part of global folklore for centuries. Knights and soldiers would hunt these mythical beasts in fairy tales to win the hearts of beautiful princesses. They even became a symbol of royalty and importance in East Asian cultures like China. In America, they’re mostly associated with Ren Fairs and dungeon masters.
Here are the top 20 dragon movies released prior to 2020 to learn more about our fiery friends.
20. Maleficent (2014)/Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Maleficent is quite possibly the most evil of all the Disney witches, and she’s a dragon on top of it. She’s become a popular antihero in today’s pop culture.
19. Willow (1988)
Ron Howard‘s epic late-80s fantasy stars Val Kilmer and Warwick Davis, and at one point in their magical adventure, a troll sneak attacks them with an Eborsisk dragon.
18. The NeverEnding Story (1984-?)
Falkor is one of six luckdragons mentioned in The NeverEnding Story, but he’s the only one shown. He’s a fluffy, elongated, dog-like dragon who speaks perfect English.
17. Dragonquest (2009)
Marc Singer’s Maxim lives in a Medieval world full of sorcerers and dragons. When an evil wizard unleashes an indestructible fire dragon on the land, he leads a resistance to rally a stronger dragon.
16. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
Jet Li brings the Mummy trilogy to China, where the Dragon Emperor is resurrected using the Eye of Shangri-La. Once fully restored in Shangri-La’s waters, he gains the ability to shapeshift into a dragon and raise the Terra Cotta Army to take over the world.
15. Mulan (1998)
When young Fa Mulan decides to help her family by joining the Chinese army, she enlists the help of the family’s dragon Mushu.
14. Age of the Dragons (2011)
The classic Moby Dick is reimagined in world with dragons, and Captain Ahab is on the hunt for the legendary white dragon.
13. I Am Dragon (2015)
This Russian 3D fantasy adventure portrays a woman kidnapped by a dragon on her wedding day. Now she’s living on a desert island with a strange man.
12. Dragonheart Series (1996-2015)
Sean Connery plays the wise Draco who gives a piece of his heart to save the son of a human king in return for peace.
11. Dragon Wars: D-War (2007)
This Korean film focuses on Imoogi, snake-like dragons terrorizing modern-day cities driven by different cults in a dragon-like Godzilla fantasy world.
10. Reign of Fire (2002)
Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale star in this tale about a world of dragons unleashed by a man named Quinn’s mother. Now an American has come to Europe to mansplain how to kill the dragons.
9. Dungeons & Dragons (2000)
The popular role-playing game becomes a movie with all the bells and whistles, including wild dragons, evil warlocks, and more.
8. Eragon (2006)
Star Wars with dragons features a farm boy who’s the key to fighting the dark side through dragons.
7. Dragonslayer (1981)
Disney’s dark adventure follows a post-Roman kingdom terrorized by a 400-year-old dragon called Vermithrax Perjaorative.
6. Shrek (2001)
5. Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer (2010)
Laura initially dismisses her son Arthur’s fantasies, but when it becomes clear they’re all in real danger, she joins forces with Arthur and the Knights of the Square Table to defeat a dragon who’s been unleashed.
4. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Smaug has control of Lonely Mountain, and it’s up to Bilbo Baggins to stop him in the second installment of the Hobbit trilogy.
3. Pete’s Dragon (2016)
Grace Meacham (Bryce Dallas Howard) thinks her father’s stories of dragons are just tall tales, until she meets an orphan named Pete who claims to live in the woods with a dragon.
2. Harry Potter Franchise (2005-Current)
Dragons are mostly cursory in the Potterverse. but when they show up, they’re a formidable force. The Triwizard Cup alone has four dragon battles: a Hungarian Horntail, Swedish Short-Snout, Chinese Fireball, and Common Green Welsh.
1. How to Train Your Dragon Series (2010-Current)
A group of Vikings is embroiled in a lifetime war with the dragons, until Hiccup, the Viking king’s scrawny son, learns to domesticate a Night Fury, the rarest and most dangerous dragon.