Dinosaurs Are Dragons

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Clay: Can't you speak to her? [1] You're practically one of those critters!

Dojo:[2] I beg your pardon!! That's like saying you're practically a monkey! She's prehistoric, and that's offensive to dragons! Just because she speaks with a British accent doesn't make her smart! We breathe fire, fly, and chew with our mouths closed!

What could be worse than a t-rex? A t-rex that breathes fire.

This is a good example of a trope that appears to be changing from one thing to another. Basically, some people just can't get over how similar some dinosaurs are to dragons.

Both are big lizardy things, right? They're already so similar, why not have all dinosaurs be fearsome carnivores? Because hey—big lizard things just have to eat meat, just like dragons! And if they ever meet with humans, they must messily devour them all! Just like dragons!

And while we're at it, why not associate dinosaurs with lava-spewing volcanoes? Or even give them the ability to breathe fire? It'd be a shame not to, right?

This is especially prevalent in pulp adventure novels, B-movies, and video games set in Prehistoric worlds where Everything's Trying To Kill You.

There is a bit more justification for this confusion in Eastern media; it's largely due to a long-standing translation mixup. When people discovered fossil bones in ancient China, they figured they were dragon bones (to be more precise, bones shed by dragons who have achieved their final, fully airborne forms). Many crushed dinosaur fossils were sold over the years as "dragon bone powder." No one knows how many important discoveries were lost due to the superstition. In any case, the words for "dragon" and "prehistoric creature" in most Asian languages are very similar, and sometimes it's simply used to refer to both dinosaurs and dragons. This goes a long[3] way to explain why many Chinese dinosaurs have dragon-derived names. Not to mention why, especially in video games, dinosaur-like creatures have fire-breathing abilities and dragon-like creatures are identified as dinosaurs.

The Western origins of this trope are a bit more complicated. It may have something to do with the popular notion that associates ancient times with loads and loads of flame-spewing volcanoes. (There was a lot of volcanic activity during the Cretaceous, but it certainly was nowhere near as violent as depicted in fiction, and it had more to do with poison gas than rivers of lava and hellfire raining down everywhere.) Take a look at early paleo-art and you'll not only see tons of lava, but also many dinosaurs who look suspiciously like dragons wandering in this hellish, primeval, pre-human landscape. Some art critics, like W. J. T. Mitchell, have wondered if the older "tripod stance" seen in early depictions of bipedal dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex is meant to at least subconsciously bring to mind images of the Biblical "upright serpent". Speaking of, this trope probably has some relationship with the belief, held by both certain creationists and some cryptozoologists, that some dinosaurs survived the mass extinction and inspired the stories of dragons. Kent Hovind goes so far as to say that some species "must" have breathed fire (because The Bible — or at least the King James Version—mentions dragons) and may still exist in some Lost World in The Amazon or somewhere.

The older version of the trope is gradually becoming more and more discredited as it filters into the pop-culture consciousness that dinosaurs, really, were just another kind of animal. The newer version comes at the issue from a different angle: now it's more like Dragons Are Dinosaurs. Quite a few anthropologists are convinced that misinterpreted fossils inspired many legends of fantastic beasts. At least one has proposed that dragon legends have to be based upon (get a cold drink and a comfy seat) long-held "Racial Memories" of dinosaurs dating back to the tree-shrew days. In any case, look for fantasy worlds where wizards are finding dragon fossils and local legendary dragons who turn out to be surviving dinosaurs (you wonder how many of the latter are inspired by the true story of the Komodo dragon).

Dinosaurs Are Dragons may be considered a subtrope of Prehistoric Monster, which talks about the pop-portraits of general prehistoric life. See also Our Dragons Are Different, Here There Were Dragons, Giant Flyer, Reptiles Are Abhorrent, Ptero-Soarer, and (naturally) Somewhere a Palaeontologist Is Crying.

Note that this is not limited to dinosaurs, and can apply to other prehistoric reptiles like pterosaurs too.

Examples of Dinosaurs Are Dragons include:


Anime and Manga

  • In the Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime, Dragons are dinosaurs... sort of. Rex Raptor has a dinosaur Theme Deck. However, his two strongest monsters, Serpent Night Dragon and Red Eyes Black Dragon, are dragons. Possibly justified as dragons are not affected by the arbitrary dinosaur weakness, and Rex may even be exploiting the confusion here. (In the Yu-Gi-Oh! verse, a two-headed dragon is identified as a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Um, yeah.)
    • There is one card, Two Mouthed Darkruler, who was originally classified as a Dragon, but is now a Dinosaur. Hilariously, it has a counterpart known as Two-Headed Thunder Dragon (which, aside from a pallet swap, looks exactly the same) which is made from fusing two Thunder Dragons.
    • The card game, however, distinguishes between dragons and dinosaurs by making them two entirely different types (Dragon-type and Dinosaur-type). For quite a while since the start of the game, there were very few Dinosaur-type monsters, and it was years before a particularly powerful one was released.
    • For some reason, almost all of the Dinosaur-type monsters in the various Yu-Gi-Oh! video games are shown breathing fire for their attacks.
    • Rex specifically notes that the Serpent Night Dragon and the Red Eyes Black Dragon are his special rare cards (he won the Serpent Night Dragon at a tournament), which makes them an acceptable exception to his dinosaur-themed deck. He's just showing off by having them - and ends up losing both anyway.
  • Digimon is full of dinosaur Mons which can breathe fire, primarily of the Tyrannosaurus Rex variety. Many of these fill the role of The Hero's Bond Creature in any given series, when that role isn't filled by an actual dragon Mon. Greymon and GeoGreymon are nearly perfect embodiments of this trope. It's justified in the case of Guilmon; he's an Ascended Fanboy's drawing come to life, was specifically based upon the aforementioned Greymon, and isn't particularly bright to begin with.
    • An odd variation of the trope: the "dramon" family is a subset of Mons possessing the "DNA" of a dragon ancestor Mon and thus considered to be "true" dragons, and this grouping does include some obvious dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex-based or otherwise. Not all "dramon" Digimon can breathe fire, but the trope applies in the sense of them being considered dragons. For example: Cannondramon, a Cyborg Digimon of this family, looks like a diplodocus with railguns strapped to its back.
    • All cases are quite likely justified given the nature of Digimon as a whole: many are stated to be the product of accumulating data on one given subject from the internet given life, so in an in-universe sense, Digimon uses this trope because its users of this trope were specifically born of this trope's prevalence. And let's face it, dragon/dinosaur mons are the only ones in the franchise which can breathe fire...
  • Dinosaur King is an... interesting attempt to make a generic Mon show with actual animals. It was even weirder to see them change shape, breathe fire, and perform "electric tackles".
  • The Dinosaur Empire in Getter Robo occasionally gave fire-breathing abilities to their Dinosaur-type Robeasts. Of course, they also gave them Missile Launchers and Death Rays, so some tinkering is to be expected.

Comic Books

  • While the dragons in Bone come in all shapes and sizes, some literally look like dinosaurs with wings attached to them, most notably a T-Rex, a Stegosaur and a sauropod.
  • Played with in Demon Knights; the characters call the big lizardy creatures dragons, because it's The Dark Ages, but to the audience they're clearly dinosaurs with no draconic characteristics at all.


  • Godzilla is either a dragon or a dinosaur depending on which fan you ask. Indeed, the fantastic nature of most Kaiju sways from one extreme to the other depending on the movie. The original film says that he's a sea dwelling dinosaur (not to different from his current self) who was resurrected and mutated by the miracle of atomic mutation and he just happened to fit into the local dragon mythology.
    • His origin is given much more clearly in Godzilla vs King Ghidorah which reveals he really is a mutated dinosaur that became a legendary figure.
    • The confusion among American fans, at least, is probably due to the American dub of Godzilla Raids Again. In it, an educational film reel explained that dinosaurs, including Godzilla (then called Gigantis) and Anguirus, were created from pools of burning lava and sulfur, resulting in their being walking fire elementals of sorts.
      • And they dominated the earth during the "age of fire", whenever that was.
        • The hadean eon, perhaps?
          • If that's the case then they fail geology forever.
  • The Back to The Future ride at Universal Studios stopped short of having its Tyrannosaurus Rex breath fire—but had it looking very dragon-like and living in the heart of an active volcano. Because animals like to live inside volcanoes.
    • This may have possibly been an homage to the Disney diorama noted below.
  • Oddly, Fantasia may have a lot to do with the volcano subtrope. "Rite of Spring" begins with a seemingly endless field of lava-spewing volcanoes. A short and easily missed transition shows the progress of life on Earth and then suddenly cuts to an extended scene set during the late Cretaceous. Given that this is one of the most influential dinosaur film moments ever, perhaps many people missed the transition....
    • This was translated over into "real" life in 1966 when Disneyland added the animatronic Primeval World diorama to their Disneyland Railroad attraction. In the Diorama, a T. rex is depicted fighting a Stegosaurus in the midst of (of course) a volcanic landscape.
  • The beginning narration in Reign of Fire mentions that scientists found fossils that confirm that dragons were responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs. This doesn't state their relation to the dinosaurs, but may imply a distant relation.


  • Several years earlier than Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real (enough to wonder if a lawsuit could be justified), Peter Dickinson's book The Flight of Dragons took the view that dragons were long-surviving prehistoric creatures—though not necessarily dinosaurs. He provides plausible means whereby dragons could be huge, breathe fire, have a reason to hoard gold, and so on, all based on the mechanism whereby they flew. He even sketches out an evolutionary path, and provides a reason why neither fossils nor cave paintings of dragons should exist.
    • Though the "no fossils" explanation is a little hard to swallow, since he says that the powerful acids that dragons use to make hydrogen would dissolve the entire body when the dragon dies. 1) The head, neck, and tail at least would be safely out of range of the fluids, and 2) the acids would spread and drain away out of the body along with becoming neutralized from reacting with things.
  • One character in the Drenai books by David Gemmell remembers "dragon" skeletons that he saw in a museum, while thinking that it was impossible for such animals to breathe fire without burning their own long throats. Given that we're dealing with quite low Low Fantasy here, it is implied that he saw just a mundane dinosaur fossil.
  • The Kill All Humans aspect is ubiquitous in pulp fiction. Authors seemed to like portraying every dinosaur species, including triceratops and stegosaurs, as carnivorous. Not only that, but both the legitimate carnivores and the herbivores appear to prefer humans over any other potential prey.
    • And mention must be made of a Tarzan novel in which our hero meets a Stegosaurus who can fly (using its spiky things as aerofoils, of course).
    • Interestingly, in more recent years, some paleontologists (such as Greg Paul and Mark Witton) have suggested that at least some ceratopsians habitually added some protein to their diet; carrion and maybe even small animals. There's direct fossil evidence for omnivory in at least one ceratopsian, Psittacosaurus. So a meat-eating Triceratops isn't that outlandish; it's just that it would be more similar to the same behavior in wild boar. (Of course, the obsession with eating humans is still silly, and the flying Stegosaurus thing is just hilarious.)
  • In the Robert A. Heinlein novel Glory Road, the heroes encounter a dragon in the Medieval European Fantasy world they are in. The novel presents the dragon as a dinosaur which due to evolutionary traits (a high sulfur content in its body) had the ability to breathe fire.
  • Played with in Larry Niven's Warlock universe where, as mana is used up, the magical great dragons die off and metamorphose into rocky skeletons embedded in the rocks and stones of the mountains.
  • Percy Jackson and The Olympians claims that not only are all dinosaurs dragons, but that Tyrannosaurus Rex specifically is the dragon that Cadmus slew and grew soldiers from its teeth.
  • Conan encounters what he calls a dragon (clearly an - unaccountably predatory - Stegosaurus from the description) in the Robert E. Howard story Red Nails. It is later revealed to have been reanimated from fossils by magic.
    • The Red Nails dragon doesn't really resemble a Stegosaurus except in the broadest sense. It has a large head like a snake's, a scorpion tail, serrated spines on its back, and a generally lizard-like body shape. However, Barry Windsor-Smith chose to depict it as a Stegosaurus in the Savage Sword of Conan adaptation of Red Nails.
  • Dinotopia is an island populated by Intellectual Dinosaurs and shipwrecked humans. Those who escaped from the island in ancient times are the source of dragon mythology.
  • This trope comes into play in-universe in The Stone Dance of the Chameleon. The world in which these books are set has all sorts of prehistoric flora and fauna around, including many kinds of dinosaurs. Among these dinosaurs are the huimur, some kind of triceratops that is usually used as pack animal. Giant versions of these animals are outfitted with towers similar to those on war elephants, and flame pipes, and these are generally called dragons. Even so, the protagonist's father forbids him from using that word because he feels it to be barbarous.
  • One chapter in Merlin's Mistake by Robert Newman had main characters Brian, Tertius, and Maude looking for a dragon they'd been told lived in the area — part of 13th-century Britain. When they found it, Tertius, to whom Merlin had mistakenly given all the knowledge of the 20th century, recognized it as a triceratops.[4] Having been told earlier that it wasn't known to have ever hurt anyone, and seeing that it was old and feeble, Brian decided he'd feel wrong if he slew it.
  • Toward the end of David Drake's Birds of Prey, the main characters are told that a dragon is causing trouble in 3rd-century Syria. Since it's already been shown that the Time Travel by which one of them came from the distant future had the side effect of yanking a number of creatures from the prehistoric past, it's no surprise to readers when the "dragon" is an allosaurus.

Live Action TV

  • Played in a unique fashion by Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real, a Discovery Channel Mockumentary that showed "genuine" dragons as a species of prehistoric creature that survived into modern times, and which possessed a variety of fire-breathing that had a plausible biological explanation. They didn't say anything about them actually being dinosaurs, but the their overall physiological structure was consistent with that of a dinosaur.
    • Also averted, as the other species of dragon shown were more closely related to crocodiles than dinosaurs, being semi-aquatic and possessing a crocodile's false pallet (a valve in the back of the throat), which keeps both water and fire from entering the dragons' lungs.
  • Played straight in a more recent special, Dragons Or Dinosaurs Creation Or Evolution. In it, the experts suggest that the legends of dragons were based upon dinosaurs. Despite the bold claims, it is surprisingly well researched.
  • The creationist antagonist in the second season of Waterloo Road held this view, and used it to sway several of the students (including a regular cast member who had been established as very impressionable) because dragons are cool.
    • Real Life creationist literature targeted at the underage plays up the dragon angle. This is where we bring up Chick Tracts...
  • Made into a joke on Friends, "The one with the Secret Closet":

Phoebe: How would you feel if you couldn't share your cooking? Or-or imagine how Ross would feel if he couldn't teach us about dragons?
Monica: Dinosaurs.
Phoebe: Potato, potaato...

  • "Spoony Experiment" on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: "I never really understood what the Green Ranger's Humongous Mecha was. He doesn't even fit into the whole dinosaur thing, he just yells "Dragonzord!" And I have no idea where dragons fit into the whole dinosaur thing." In the next season, the dinosaur (or not) Humongous Mecha are explicitly transformed into mythical creature Humongous Mecha - of course, the Tyrannosaurus becomes a dragon.
  • The Japanese TV series Dinosaur Prince was about a boy who grew up in a strange island and befriended a fire-breathing Brontosaurus. It turns out the island was actually created by alien invaders to grow superpowered dinosaurs for use as living weapons to conquer the world with. Naturally , Prince and his dino were often asked by outsiders to help battle the other monsters.
  • Primeval has a Dracorex which is mistaken for a Dragon while passing through the middle ages on it's way to 2009. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • Primeval is a special example as the existence of animals travelling through the time anomalies is heavily implied to be the origin of mythical creatures, and the Monster of the Week is many times deliberately designed to resemble those myths it "inspired". In this case, Dracorex is given a pair of "unfossilizable" dorsal membranes that look like bat wings (but aren't).
  • Season 2, episode 4 of Sir Arthur Conan Doyles the Lost World features a dinosaur that can breathe fire. Perhaps justified because the series takes place in a Lost World, not in prehistoric times, and it's established that life exists that is descended from prehistoric creatures but didn't exist in prehistoric times (such as lizard men).
    • In a different episode, a Medieval city calls on the heroes to slay a dragon, but they find that it is just a T-Rex, though they realize the Medieval citizens would not know that.
  • Sid & Marty Kroft's Land of the Lost featured a gigantic, fire-breathing Dimetrodon called Torchy, whose diet included raw coal that it found exposed on the walls of a canyon.


  • In the most famous section of Tennyson's In Memoriam A.H.H. dinosaurs are the primordial "dragons of the prime, / That tare each other in their slime..."

Tabletop Games

  • The Old World of Darkness played this straight in the mythos of Werewolf: The Apocalypse. One of the species of Changing Breeds are the Mokole. Nominally, they're weregators, except for the fact that, since they serve as Gaia's Memory, their War Form can be anything sufficiently lizardy drawn from earthly history. Most of them go for dinosaurs mish-mashes, but there are Eastern variants that can become dragons.
  • Dungeons & Dragons, naturally, subverts this. Dinosaurs are nothing more than animals, though they're cool enough that they aren't listed in one appendix in the Monster Manual, where animals normally are, but instead under their own heading. Which makes D officially (and suitably) the most feared section of all creature books for D, what with dragons, demons, devils, dinosaurs, and dire animals.
    • Some of the dragon-related source books take an interesting approach to this issue by suggesting that dragons may be evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs, sixty-millions-years on. (This might be more plausible if Young Earth Creationists weren't absolutely right in most D&D worlds.)
    • In the latest D&D books, dinosaurs were renamed "behemoths", in an effort to avoid anachronisms. In the 4th edition Monster Manual, we have a "Bloodspike Behemoth" (a Stegosaurus), and a "Macetail Behemoth" (an Ankylosaurus). So the D section lost a little coolness (but remains filled with Dragons, Devils, Demons, Dracoliches, Dragonspawn, etc., etc., etc.).
      • And Drakes, which includes a few Dromaeosauridae in addition to more fantastic creatures.
  • Castle Falkenstein is set in a parallel 19th century, replete with magic. Dragons are part of the political scene and are known to be the descendants of pterosaurs who survived the extinction of the dinosaurs by developing intelligence and magic.
  • In Exalted, the Dragon Kings are actually human-sized, sentient, armored, super-intelligent, enlightened, elementally-powered saurians who wield Aztec-like crystal clubs and swords. Oh, yes.
  • In RuneQuest the dinosaurs are imperfect dragons who are born that way because the dragon had given into certain vices in past life. Or something like that. The dragon lifespan and spiritual life was never too clear in Glorantha. The game even advices the GM to avoid using dragons if he finds them too confusing.
  • Averted by the Yu-Gi-Oh card game. There are Dragon-type monsters, there are Dinosaur-type monsters, and there are even Reptile-type monsters, yet they all are entirely distinct types. Some Dragons require you to sacrifice Dinosaurs (NOT other Dragons) to use them.
    • However, this trope is played straight in the GameCube game Falsebound Kingdom, where all Dinosaur monsters are classified as Dragons.

Trading Cards

Video Games

  • In the Adventure Island franchise, one of the ridable dinosaurs has fire breath as his power.
  • A friend of the main character in Little Big Adventure is called Dinofly, and he looks like a dragon, except he doesn't breathe fire.
  • The Tyranno boss in Chrono Trigger, for some odd reason, breathes fire.
  • Yoshi of the Super Mario Bros. series was referred to as a dragon and a dinosaur interchangeably in Nintendo publications early on, although Nintendo seems to have mastered the distinction now. He can't breathe fire on his own, but an occasional power-up can give him that ability.
    • Yoshi's Final Smash in Super Smash Bros. Brawl puts him firmly in dragon territory—he grows wings, becomes invincible, and flies around the screen breathing fire. It's even called the "Super Dragon".
      • The name probably comes from the Japanese version of Super Mario World, where he signs his name as "Super Dragon Yoshi."
    • Also, in Super Mario World (which introduced Yoshi to the series), when Mario or Luigi stomps on a Dino-Rhino on Chocolate Island, it shrinks and becomes a Dino-Torch, which breathes fire upward.
    • Mention must also be made of the SMW boss called "Reznor" (huh?) He is/It is/They are four fireball-spitting Triceratops spinning on a waterwheel.
  • Tricky the sorta-Styracosaurus in Star Fox Adventures breathes fire and burrows underground.
  • Pokémon both uses and averts this trope. While it is possible to teach many of the dinosaur-like Pokémon in the series to breathe fire, naturally learned fire breathing is left to Fire Pokémon and the actual Dragons. Also, it is possible to teach fire-breathing to many other creatures that bear no resemblance to dragons or dinosaurs.
    • As far as specific examples go, we've got a few proper examples in the form of Aerodactyl and the Tyrunt line, both of which are fossil Pokémon. Judging by the name, Aerodactyl is meant to represent Pterosaurs but looks like a slate-gray prehistoric dragon, and is a mainstay of Elite Four/Champion Lance's team of Dragon Pokémon. Tyrunt and its evolution Tyrantrum however are literal dinosaur dragons: they're both powerful Rock/Dragon Tyrannosaur Rex Pokémon.
  • Final Fantasy VI had an infamous translation error where the Japanese word for "dinosaur" (kyoryu) was translated literally as "frightful dragon"—in a part of the game where the player's goal was to find dragons, causing much confusion.
    • The sprites for the Brachiosaur and the Tyrannosaur were used (with similar colors even) for two actual dragons: Tyrannosaur? Earth Dragon. Brachiosaur? Gold Dragon.
      • The Ice Dragon has the same sprite as the Vectaur, a small, vaguely dinosaur-like enemy that can be encountered in Kefka's tower.
  • Final Fantasy XII somewhat rationalizes this by defining the dragon genus as an overarching term for most large reptiles, so including the more traditional wyrms and wyverns and the more historical theropods in the same evolutionary chain.
  • In Dragon Spirit for the TurboGrafx-16, many land-based enemies are dinosaurs that spit fireballs at you.
  • In Medi Evil 2, the skeletal dinosaur boss breathes fire.
  • Pop'n Music has a character called Dino, who is a fire-breathing dinosaur.
  • Averted in the game EVO Search for Eden, where the dinosaurs are... just dinosaurs. Although one of the "hidden forms" you could briefly take was a flying horned dragon. To acquire this powerful One-Winged Angel form, you'll have to turn into a bird, so technically this dragon is a dinosaur.
  • Tales of Symphonia pokes fun at this trope in a science academy which contains the assembled skeleton of a dragon on display. A nearby scholar indicates that it was a prehistoric creature that lived long ago. Nevertheless, many varieties of real, living dragons exist in the game, including both winged and non-winged varieties, some of which have even been domesticated for human use. Unfortunately for the scientists, they all live in places that they are unlikely to ever see.
    • What are you talking about "never see"? There are Wyverns right outside the town....
  • In Tales of Eternia, one can encounter dinosaurs. They're big green lizardy things with tiny arms and lots of teeth. Also, they breathe fire. Making it worse, elsewhere, one can find actual dragons, which are exactly like red Dinosaurs with tiny wings.
    • Not fire, Phlogiston. Remember, these are old-fashioned creatures.
  • Misuzu Kamio of Eternal Fighter Zero can summon various fire-breathing (stuffed) dinosaurs with her "Gao Gao Fire" super. Sure, they're just stuffed animals, but still....
  • King Dodongo from The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, whose Boss Subtitles label him as an Infernal Dinosaur. Hyrule Warriors would take it even further by giving him a redesign that makes him look like a draconic triceratops.
    • The Helmasaur King from A Link to the Past and Gemasaur King from A Link Between Worlds are other vaguely saurian dragon monsters.
  • Mega Man X 5 has a Maverick boss named Mattrex/Burn Dinorex, a humanoid Tyrannosaurus Reploid with flame powers, including fire breath.
    • More of a subversion, as every maverick boss is a combination of an animal and an element. Could be inspired by this, however he still resembles a flaming T. Rex more than a dragon.
  • A lot of the monsters in the Monster Hunter series look like prehistoric creatures crossed with dragons. The most noteworthy examples are as follows:
    • Monoblos and Diablos: foul-tempered and massive Flying Wyverns that look like a dragon with a Styracosaurus and Triceratops head respectively.
    • Tigrex, who follows the same formula as the above two but with the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
    • All Brute Wyverns are wyverns with a theropod dinosaur body type. Deviljho is the most famous for being an overwhelmingly powerful beast that looks like a T. Rex from hell. Then there's the Anjanath, which literally is a T. Rex... with pink scales, black fur, and the ability to sneeze fire.
  • One of the versions of the second Mega Man Star Force game is "Fire Dinosaur". They changed it to "Fire Saurian" in the US release, probably thinking nobody would know what it meant, and even if they did, they wouldn't care. They were right.
  • The Dragos of Mother 3 are simply regular dinosaurs. The one Drago that falls victim to the Pig Army's chimerization plot gains the ability to breathe fire. (Though from the looks of its sprite, it appears that they just shoved a flamethrower down its throat.)
  • One of the characters in the '94 arcade game Primal Rage is a fire-breathing Tyrannosaurus Rex named Diablo. Of course, he's a God of Evil in the shape of a T. rex, so he at least has a justification for it.
  • The title character of the Sega Genesis/Super Nintendo game Radical Rex breathes fire as his main weapon.
  • Turok averts this trope by having a Dinosaur with bionic enhancements; flamethrowers situated at the Tyrannosaur's head spit fire, making it look similar to a dragon.
  • In the first Devil May Cry game, two puzzles require defeating fire-breathing dragons. Said dragons are basically T. rex skeletons that spit fireballs at you. (But then again, this is Devil May Cry.)
  • Mostly averted in Warcraft games. There are several creatures that look like dinosaurs or other prehistoric reptiles, most notably devilsaurs (T. rex with some spines on their back), raptors, treshadons (plesiosaur-lookalikas) and stegadons (stegosaur-like creatures with a large horned head instead of a tiny one like the real things had). Most don't breathe fire, but many stegadon variants (called thunder lizards) shoot lightning out of their horn.
    • A lot of these are commonly found in areas with lots of lava
    • In World of Warcraft, dinosaurs are clearly labeled "beasts" instead of "dragonkin". Also, just to be fair, while few people know this, it is heavily implied in some tauren quests that the "thunder lizards" (lightning shooting stegodons) are not dinosaurs, but magical beasts (that Blizz just reused the model of for the stegodons) of an entirely different sort.
      • Comedically, a new NPC in Un'Goro Crater can be constantly heard shouting about Dragons and his attempts to kill them. When you finally meet the man (Maxamillian of Northshire) it turns out he thinks the dinosaurs of the are are, well, dragons.
  • According to Touhou, dragons are an ancient race nearly on the same level as the Yaoyorozu no Kami (8 million deities). According to Morichika Rinnosuke in the source material Curiosities of Lotus Asia, the world outside of Gensokyo has been re-naming dragon fossils as various types of dinosaurs.
  • Fossil Fighters explicitly explains that the revived animals (which include more than just dinosaurs) gained superpowers as a side-effect of the cloning process, which is why that T-rex is breathing fire and that Dilophosaurus is shooting out gallons of water.
    • The devs also admitted in an interview that they did this due to the Rule of Fun: "If we were to make it realistic, the only things the dinosaurs could do is either bite or stomp. That's why we gave each dinosaur attributes like fire or water, because we thought it would be fun to play if they breathed fire and stuff."
  • The cute bubble dragons of Bubble Bobble were referred to as dinosaurs at the time the NES version first came out (on the NES of course, not the later Virtual Console release). To be fair, they're too short and cute to tell at first glance.
  • The dragons seen in the minigame "Dragon Drop" in Crash Bash definitely invoke this trope. They basically look like Baby T except with bat-like ears, minuscule wings, and different colours. The 'T' in 'Baby T', as hinted by the trope name, stands for Tyrannosaurus Rex. In fact, a low-res Baby T model was used as a placeholder while the dragons were being programmed into the game.
  • Space Station Silicon Valley had Borassic Park, where fire-breathing dinosaurs made an appearance. Unfortunately, they (and the other dinos in that level) were invincible obstacles, not robotic animals, and therefore you could not possess them.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex in the Monster in My Pocket videogame breathe fire. Thanks to the Wiki Rule, it can be identified as "super-heated plasma from his mouth, known as atomic breath."
  • In EverQuest 2, in the dungeon "Vasty Deep: The Abandoned Labs", the players discover a surprisingly anatomically accurate Tyrannosaurus Rex floating in a giant test tube. They mistake it for a kind of dragon they don't recognize.
  • The Sega RPG 7thDragon plays Dragons Are Dinosaurs straight, although there are some dragons based on other animals as well.
  • The "Prehistoric Turtlesaurus" stage in the arcade version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: Turtles in Time (and through extension, Re-Shelled) features fire-breathing velociraptors, though in the SNES port they simply try to run you over.
  • Dark Souls has the "Dragons are Dinosaurs" version, at least visually. The two Undead Dragons found in the game have skulls/head that bear a striking resemblance to a T-rex skull.

Web Animation

Coach Z Pterodactyl: The Cheatsaurus can do it again!

Web Comics

  • The fan-winged dragons in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob evolved from Kuehneosaurus (a real-life lizard that lived in the Triassic and which had "wings" formed from overlong ribs which extended out from its body; it is believed to have used these to parachute from trees). The dragons destroyed their civilization in a war—wiping out the dinosaurs in the process—after which they became peaceful, pastoral creatures. Millions of years later, when human knights and hunters began "slaying" them, they revived their old technology and left Earth for the planet Butane in the Kuiper Belt.
  • In this Bad Gods comic, a character tries in vain to explain the difference between dinosaurs and dragons.
  • Wexter, the T-Rex pet of Axe Cop breathes fire, though this may be justified by the sheer number of super-powers invented on the spot for anything and everything.
    • There's a scene in The Ultimate Battle arc that lampshades this. Axe Cop explains that Wexter must be transformed into a dragon and, at Sockarang's protests ("He can already fly and breath fire!"), insists that there's a significant difference between dragons and flying, fire-breathing tyrannosaurs.

Western Animation

  • The Dinobots' trademark attack is fire breath; Slag (the Triceratops) actually had "Flamethrower" as his official assigned function. (Well, at least they're robots.) The ones in Animated also breathed fire and were made from animatronic dinosaurs, but they weren't suppose to have it; it was something Megatron, who was working with an unwitting Sumdac, added the so they would have a weapon.
    • The Megatron from Beast Wars started as a Tyrannosaurus, but somehow (thanks to the original Megatron's spark and a lava dunking) gained a huge dragon form near the end of the series. The fact that he's a robot makes it a little easier to take, but considering they created their beast modes using scanned DNA, the dragon really comes out of nowhere, unless the G1 animated continuity episode: "A Decepticon Raider In King Aurthur's Court" is canon, then dragons really did exist in cartoon G1 Earth.
      • Megatron's Concept art ran this up to 11 and then some. Apparently the next stage in a mythological creatures upgrade involved giving him a second head. This design was later recycled into Robots In Disguise Megs, who turned into a two-headed dragon. In a series where every animal was based on real-life DNA, this was a serious Non Sequitur Episode.
    • And then there's Deathsaurus (or whichever of his 5+ names you want to call him), whose alt mode is somewhere between a dragon and a giant chicken...
  • Extremely evident in Gumby, where Prickle would claim to be a dragon in some episodes (and even breathe fire), and insist he was a dinosaur in others.
    • What makes the inconsistency especially stupid is that there's a whole episode devoted to him proving he's a dinosaur so he can get into an ice cream parlor that doesn't allow dragons (because they melt the ice cream).
  • While the series has other problems, The Flintstones had a dino/dragon who doubled as a lighter or an oven. ("It's a living...")
  • The subtler versions of this trope pop up a few times in the DC Animated Universe. The standout scene is the one where a time-traveling supervillain dumps one of his minions in the... Cretaceous? Said minion gets to briefly enjoy a vista where a family of Brachiosaurs are swimming in lava before Rocks Fall and Everyone Dies.
  • Gargoyles probably deserves a mention here due to Greg Weisman's Shrug of God in response to the question, "What kind of animal are Gargoyles classified as?":

"Going by evolution, the gargoyles descended from a species that is often classified along with dinosaurs, without necessarily being dinosaurs." - from here

    • ... birds?
      • More like pterosaurs/pterodactyls actually, if they are indeed intended being related to dinosaurs without belong within the group
      • Given they have hair and mammary glands, Therapsids are more likely candidate, Word of God notwithstanding. Otherwise, we hit another trope.
  • In Disney's American Dragon: Jake Long, Jake's magic-hunting teacher Mr..(I mean Prof.) Rockwood had the theory that dragons were evolutions of the dinosaurs. Being the American Dragon, Jake knew this was a bunch of hooey.
  • Spike, the dragon cub from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, is sometimes mistaken by new fans for a dinosaur cub; probably because he shares various traits with Yoshi, who is also often interpreted as a dinosaur cub. The fact that he turns into a purple Godzilla in "Secret Of My Excess" doesn't really help.

Real Life

  • The skull of the pachycephalosaur Dracorex hogwartsia is housed at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Its name, which means "Hogwarts' Dragon King", was voted on by fans of Harry Potter. Most visitors probably see past the name.
  • Several Chinese dinosaurs have "long", the Mandarin word for "dragon", in their names, i.e. Dilong paradoxus, Guanlong wucaii, Mei long, Yinlong downsi, and Tianyulong confuciusi. The Chinese word for dinosaur, in fact, is "konglong" (恐龙 or 恐龍, "fearsome dragon.") Translations of dinosaur names into Chinese almost always include "long", in place of the "saurus" - for example, Tyrannosaurus rex is "ba wang long", or "tyrant king dragon". There's also an oviraptorosaur called Hagryphus ("Ha's gryphon") and Welsh prosauropod called... Pantydraco... (It's... not what it sounds like. It's derived from the Welsh valley "Pant-y-ffynon".
    • Sometimes it is applied to non-dinosaurian reptiles as well. "Bakonydraco" is a pterosaur from Hungary; it doesn't look very much like a dragon though
    • The Japanese uses the same word for dinosaur, kyouryuu (恐竜 or 恐龍), literally means "dreadful dragon."
  • Related to the Dragons Are Dinosaurs version of this trope (although nobody could mistake them for dragons): Homo floresiensis almost instantaneously gained the nickname "Hobbit". A significant number of anthropologists are convinced that a lost race of small people have to be the basis for little people legends, and absolutely not dwarfism or, uh, people using their imaginations. You could almost hear their collective triumphant shouts of, "See! See!!!"
  • Adrienne Mayor argues that fossil discoveries are the source for all the myths about giants, gryphons, and (of course) dragons in her books. It should be said that she has received quite a bit of flack for some of her theories.
  • In a related example, it is said that in ancient China, alchemists often ground dinosaur fossils into powders and used them in traditional herbal medicine believing them to be dragon bones.
    • Not just dinosaur fossils, any fossil seems to qualify for "dragon bone" status (Many of them are actually mammal fossils. iirc, the first Gigantopithecus specimens were discovered this way)
    • The same happened in Europe. For example, a purported dragon skull conserved in a Swiss church for centuries actually belonged to a wooly rhinoceros.
  • Kent "Dr Dino" Hovind claims that dinosaurs were dragons, breathed fire, rode on Noah's Ark and may still be alive in remote places (and was possibly the inspiration for the Waterloo Road example above). That even other creationists don't want much to do with Hovind's hypotheses should give you an idea how crazy they are.
    • Though some others do claim dragon legends come from human and dinosaur co-existence (mainly young-earth creationists, as opposed to old-earth or progressive creationists, who are more likely to say that it was just the fossils that were the inspiration). It's just that hardly any make the much larger jump from "dragons are inspired by dinosaurs" to "dinosaurs breathed fire."
  • Many of the old, outdated reconstructions of dinosaurs, pterosaurs and other Mesozoic reptiles were made to resemble the traditional appearance of dragons. They often sported lizardlike heads with rows of spines running down their backs. Good examples include the theropod in this picture [dead link], this [dead link], this (somewhat), and the theropod in this picture, who is also Groin Attacking his prey. Ironically, the more accurate later dinosaur reconstructions wound up reshaping the way dragons were envisioned, making them appear more dinosaur-like.
  • Played with in one online list of the most likely creatures for dragons to be based on. While the highest-listed creatures on the list were pterosaurs, the rest were living reptiles (or, in one case, a living fish, and in another, an inanimate object).
  1. A T-Rex
  2. A dragon
  3. "Long" is Mandarin for dragon
  4. Triceratops fossils have only been found in North America.