Top Five Deadliest Dragons

Spine of the Dragon author Kevin J. Anderson joins us to round up the top 5 dangerous dragons. In his book, the legendary dragon at the heart of the world is so enormous that if he ever wakes, it will be the end of all things. But don’t worry, he’s recused himself from the list.

Dragons—Fearsome, Dangerous, and Otherwise

By Kevin J. Anderson

For Dragon Week, Tor asked me to write a piece on the top five deadliest dragons in fantasy. The publication of my new novel, Spine of the Dragon, gives me at least ephemeral street cred on the subject, so let’s get to it.

  1. First and most obvious, I choose Tolkien’s Smaug.
    This was the seminal dragon for me, when I read The Hobbit in 9th grade and then saw (on first-run TV) the Rankin-Bass animated movie. Fearsome and terrifying, Smaug caused horrific destruction to Lake Town. (Yes, Tolkien afficionados can point out other dragons from Middle Earth, particularly Ancelagon the Black from the Silmarillion, as being more deadly…but it’s a subjective list.)
  2. Godzilla.
    Yeah, you just did a doubletake, but he’s a giant reptile that breathes fire, so I’ll include him as a dragon. Think of how many times he’s stomped Tokyo and elsewhere (including Fenway Park in the new movie). Since I just had the delightful experience of taking my young grandsons to their very first Godzilla movie, this guy will always rank high on my list. Runner up: in the Godzilla-verse, Ghidorah is a little more dragon-like and maybe even more deadly.
  3. Drogon from Game of Thrones.
    I don’t know what GRRM was intending to do with the dragon character in the later novels, but in the last episodes of the series when Drogon obliterates the city of King’s Landing, that’s an excessive and gut-wrenching body count. Note that Viserion, the “zombie dragon” was pretty darned deadly, too.
  4. Pern dragons.
    Not long after reading The Lord of the Rings, I discovered Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, and my life was filled with dragons. Since I’m making the rules for this list, “deadly” doesn’t have to mean deadly to people, and the Pern dragons are certainly deadly to Thread!
    I went straight to the source, asking Todd McCaffrey which dragons he thought qualified best. He responded, “The obvious choice is F’lar’s Mnementh, a bronze dragon and gold Ramoth’s mate. For me, I’d say that F’nor’s Canth, the large brown dragon that actually jumped with F’nor to the Red Star is the most awesome. (Pern dragons, as you noticed, don’t do “deadly” except to Thread.)”
  5. Tiamat, the five-headed dragon from D&D.
    When I was in college, playing Dungeons and Dragons for hours and hours every weekend, and studying the Monster Manual on my own time, Tiamat seemed the most awesome, deadliest thing you didn’t want to encounter while wandering through a dungeon. Tiamat has been responsible for an untold number of RPG-related deaths.



A tip of the hat to the dragons in the works of Christopher Paolini, Gordon R. Dickson, and Naomi Novik. Looking to Fantasy films, some of the most obvious candidates include Vermithrax Pejorative from Dragonslayer, Draco from Dragonheart, the Jabberwock from Jabberwocky (at least it had a most impressive turd), Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (who turns into a dragon at the end), and possibly the biggest kahunas of them all, the dragons from Reign of Fire, who wipe out most of the human race, six billion or so deaths…one of them may be the literal “deadliest” of any dragons on this list.

And to balance out on a lighter note, here are some dragons that definitely did not make the “deadliest” list:

  • Puff
  • Pete’s Dragon
  • The dragons from the How to Train Your Dragon series (though some of them are indeed scary)
  • Nebbish, heart-warming and stage-warming dragon companion at many spectacular Rush concerts (anyone who knows me will understand that a Rush reference is pretty much required…)

Make your own list. Go out and slay those dragons…or at least read them.

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7 thoughts on “Top Five Deadliest Dragons

  1. Not even a mention of Korabas from Malazan? A dragon that’s very presence negates all life?

  2. I also like the dragons from Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series. Considering how poisonous their spit is, I’d say they’re pretty deadly.
    Totally agree on Smaug and Drogon and dragons from the Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle.

  3. What about mentions of the dragon from Krynn (Dragonlance novels). Those dragons grew to god status. Deadly, cunning, magic users and invulnerability, not to mention a myriad of breath weapons.

  4. Rand Al’Thor is the only true dragon, all others are just false dragons 😉

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