updated 06/15/2014 AT 4:15 PM ET
•originally published 06/13/2014 AT 4:45 PM ET
Dangerous, otherworldly – dragons are majestic creatures. They’re also – considering Game of Thrones and How to Train Your Dragon 2 – having something of “a Hollywood moment.” Thus, following in the grand tradition of nuts and pies, we’ve taken this opportunity to rank them. Below, find the 24 most famous dragons in popular culture (worst to best, in our humble opinion).
We’d better get to it – we don’t want to be “dragon” our feet!
24. H.R. Pufnstuf, H.R. Pufnstuf
23. Albi the Racist Dragon, Flight of the Conchords
A lovable dragon whose bodily fluids turn into delicious treats – what’s not to like? Oh right, his violent prejudice against people of different races.
22. Cassie, Dragon Tales
The Dragon Tales dragons are cute, and they teach kids valuable lessons. But how dragon-like are they, really? Sure, they can fly, but otherwise they’re basically generic, cuddly helper figures.
21. Spot, The Munsters
Eddie Munster’s pet dragon was the Wilson of his day: often heard, rarely seen. Knowing the special effects available in the 1960s, that was probably a good thing.
20. Fin Fang Foom, Marvel Comics
How far down does Fin Fang Foom rank on the Marvel hierarchy? Consider this: The comic-book company is currently producing a film about a character named Ant-Man (who has, yes, all the powers of an ant), yet, save a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference in the first Iron Man, this supernatural dragon has made not a peep in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
19. Bub and Bob, Bubble Bobble
No, Bubble Bobble is not a shameless rip-off of Donkey Kong. You play as a dragon, not a plumber, and you have to dodge monsters, not barrels. It’s completely different.
18. The Male Dragon, Reign of Fire
The dragons in Reign of Fire are basically your bog-standard dragons – they fly, they breathe fire, they’re really mean – but for one evolutionary quirk: There’s only one male of the species. When you’re a roving band of dragon hunters led by Matthew McConaughey, that’s the kind of knowledge that comes in handy.
17. Dragon Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty
No one wants to admit it, but Dragon Maleficent totally let Price Phillip off the hook. She made him lose his unusually fireproof shield – perfect time to move in for the kill! But no, she hesitated and ended up with a sword in her belly. Props for trying to get one last bite in, though.
16. The dragon, Beowulf
Beowulf’s dragon, or wyrm in the original Old English, is the first dragon to appear in Western literature, and the originator of most classic dragon tropes. (If you ever wondered why dragons breathe fire, take it up with him.) Unlike Grendel and his mom, the dragon succeeded in killing the king of the Geats, but we can’t give it too much credit; Beowulf was incredibly old at the time.
15. Puff the Magic Dragon, Puff the Magic Dragon
He’s not a marijuana metaphor! One viewing of the Puff the Magic Dragon will set you right: Puff is an articulate, organized planner with his head on straight. You think he’d be able to get little Jackie Paper out to Honalee if he was a pot-smoking layabout?
14. Elliott, Pete’s Dragon
He’s less verbose than Puff, but his mission was largely the same: save his young charge from the depths of sadness. But while Jackie Paper was suffering only from a very modern case of ennui, Elliott was directly responsible for helping Pete escape from an abusive foster family. Advantage: Elliott.
13. Dragon, Shrek
She’s not scary, just misunderstood. We personally wouldn’t want a dragon to fall in love with us, but Donkey seemed to make it work.
12. Spyro, Spyro the Dragon
Like many dragons, Spyro is quadrupedal. Unlike those other dragons, though, his four-limbed nature eventually caused problems for his creators: Insomniac Games has said the fact that he couldn’t hold anything in his hands made it hard to come up with new ideas for levels.
11. Haku, Spirited Away
If you ever want to explain to anyone the difference between Eastern and Western dragons, just show them Haku. Unlike his European counterparts, he’s a benevolent water spirit instead of an angry fire spitter. And he can still fly, he just doesn’t need wings to do it.
10. Hungarian Horntail, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Dragons, Hagrid assures us, are misunderstood creatures. That would be easier to believe if Hagrid didn’t think that every dangerous animal was misunderstood. If we don’t know any better, we’d say the organizers of the Triwazrd Tournament were trying to get Harry Potter killed.
9. King Ghidorah, various Godzilla films
The Godzilla villain that just wouldn’t die, King Ghidorah has managed to survive multiple defeats at the hands of Japan’s favorite kaiju and keep coming back for more. In 1991 he (they?) was even brought back from the dead in the form of Mecha King Ghidorah. Even with a robotic middle head, he still lost.
8. Charizard, Pokémon
The most valuable Pokémon of them all (suck it, Mewtwo), Charizard was nigh-unstoppable in the card game. Many tears were shed in our household when he made his appearance in the deck.
7. Vermithrax Pejorative, Dragonslayer
1981’s Dragonslayer may have its detractors, but even the haters have to acknowledge the glory of Vermithrax Pejorative, one of the great movie dragons. She’s dangerous, yet she moves with elegance and grace, and you can’t argue she has the best name of any dragon on this list.
6. Falkor, The Neverending Story
Should a dragon be fuzzy? Hey it works for Falkor, who functions basically as an incredibly large, incredibly loyal dog for Atreyu. What ’80s kid didn’t dream of having a luckdragon of his very own to ride around on?
5. Drogon, Game of Thrones
The Mother of Dragons might say that she doesn’t play favorites, but HBO clearly does; when was the last time Rhaegar or Viserion got as much screen time as Drogon? Still, it’s for good reason: The only thing scarier than the site of Drogon approaching is the knowledge that he’ll only get bigger.
4. Smaug, The Hobbit
Don’t blame him for Peter Jackson splitting The Hobbit into three parts. The literary Smaug is one of fantasy’s great villains, with the arch and slightly debonaire mind of an upper-crust playboy existing in the body of a terrifying dragon.
3. Draco, Dragonheart
Many dragons on this list are equally majestic and imposing. No other dragons on this list are voiced by Sean Connery.
2. Mushu, Mulan
Arguably the least intimidating dragon on this list (though you wouldn’t hear him admit it), Mushu makes up for what he lacks in size and strength with something just as important – style.
1. Toothless, How to Train Your Dragon
Most dragons are mystical, distant creatures that we look at with a mixture of awe and fear. Toothless is not one of those dragons. But over the course of How to Train Your Dragon, we felt something we’d hardly felt for a dragon before: a real emotional attachment.
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