Dragon Rider

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    Awesome. As long as you don't consider weight, wingspan and aerodynamics.

    "The holy dragonmen, trailblazers of a new age
    Riding the universe to force the evil to its cage"

    Running Wild, "Dragonmen"

    "The way this works is you lie down on his back. Don't try to sit up. It looks great in pictures and it works like shit in reality."

    John Ringo, Emerald Sea

    Let's face it: you can't get much more Badass than a Dragon. They're huge. They fly. They breathe fire. They have weapons sticking out of nearly every part of their body. They're really, really smart. They're brutal and merciless in battle. They live for thousands of years, they wield magic, and their tough scales make them both pretty and Immune to Bullets. (Well, it really depends.) As the most well-known and widely overused mythological beast, dragons have always served as the quintessential boss monster in games, books, and myths, representing the ultimate incarnation of power and evil which endangers all life on earth.

    Until recently, that is.

    Somewhere along the line (1967, to be exact), somebody got the bright idea that maybe these vicious, bloodthirsty beasts don't have to be so evil after all. Maybe underneath all those fangs and claws, they're just gentle, misunderstood creatures who might just be willing to fight on the side of the good guys if you're lucky. In fact, maybe they're just looking for a friend.

    And thenceforth, there came the idea of a Dragon Rider, a human (or humanoid) who is so mightily goddamn badass he can actually ride on the back of these beasts, often as a steed into battle. The concept exploded and gained ridiculous popularity among fantasy authors, and now can be seen... well, just about everywhere in modern fantasy literature.

    Dragon riders are almost always characterized by a bond with the beast they ride which results in a synchronous relationship between the two, a telepathic link, and no possibility that the two could ever be separated from each other without drastic consequences. They'd better get used to each other's company- they're stuck.

    Dragon rider characters fall into the trap of being Mary Sue characters all too often, simply because the whole idea doesn't make all that much sense. In some cases, the human might fill some gap in the dragon's own abilities - an old-fashioned, unintelligent dragon might need a rider for direction, and a non-firebreather might benefit from having a wizard on its back - but most dragons are so all-around awesome that the human is redundant. And of course, that legendary magic sword of yours isn't going to do much good up there either—unless you plan on dropping it on the Big Bad? (Though if the dragon is just a particularly awesome, non-sapient animal, it is at least slightly more believable.)

    But this trope will keep coming back, because of wish fulfillment. Dragons are cool. A dragon you can fly around on is cooler.

    May sometimes be called wyverns, a different dragon-like mythical creature.

    Compare Giant Flyer, Beast of Battle, and Horse of a Different Color.

    Not to be confused with the 1995 hentai anime of the same name, which is about a different kind of riding.

    Examples of Dragon Rider include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Caro of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, once she's able to control Friedrich's fully grown form. Friedrich allows Erio to ride him as well.
    • The kingdom of Moss in Record of Lodoss War has Dragon Riders as its chief defining characteristic. After she leaves the party, one of the heroes, Shiris, marries their prince and becomes their leader.
    • Saiyuki has a unique variation; Cho Hakkai does have a pet dragon, but he's too small to ride—instead he shapeshifts into a jeep, and they travel on him that way.
      • It's not entirely unique; like many things in Saiyuki, it's inspired by something that happens in Journey to the West.
    • The Humongous Mecha Vision of Escaflowne (from the series of the same name) could transform into a dragon, which was controlled in Dragon Rider fashion as opposed to the standard internal cockpit.
    • Escaflowne probably got the idea from Mashin Hero Wataru, where deformed mecha(not so humongous, 4~5 metres at most) is a standard weapon of choice in that world, the hero's mecha is a clay model he made for an art lesson which one of the 7 dragons of the second world took to fight other mecha. The cockpit is in hyperspace where the hero stands on a metal dragon statue and held on the two horns, where other mecha got more common cockpit controls with their own style(like bamboo sticks).
    • There're some (albeit few) dragon riders riders in the aptly named hentai anime Dragon Rider. Also, their dragons can turn into beautiful girls. And now, you know the rest of the story...
    • In a similar vein the ISDA Dragonauts in Dragonaut: The Resonance ride shapechanging dragons. Though theirs have conformal cockpit modules to cope with things like breathing in deep space.
    • Spirited Away; Chihiro briefly gets to ride on Haku's back in one scene.

    Comic Books

    • Colossus of the X-Men once pulled this off, in order to provide Cyclops and Wolverine with a flying rescue. How did he obtain a dragon? Well, he waited until it attacked him... but he's literally Made of Iron, so it's okay.
      • Kitty Pryde also has a pet alien dragon named Lockheed that occasionally has the ability to grow large enough to carry her and the other X-men.
    • Hawkman has a Nazi villain called "White Dragon" who has this as his only superpower.

    Fan Works

    • In With Strings Attached, George twice turns into a red dragon so he can fly several people to some inconvenient place. The problem is that he's too big to straddle, so whomever's riding him has to hang on as best he can—not a problem for the extremely strong Paul or even the Hunter, but a total impossibility for Ringo unless someone hangs onto him as well.
    • Invoked by Shadowjack during Shadowjack Watches Sailor Moon:

    I did think of writing in a scene afterwards where [Makoto] summons the lightning dragon to go for a ride, alá Never Ending Story. But the dialogue would basically have been:



    • Mecha-King Ghidorah is an interesting variation in that one of the characters rides INSIDE of him. Of course, he is a giant, three-headed, mutated, cyborg dragon.
    • Avatar's four-winged pterodactyls are powerful hunting mounts, and may bond to a single Na'vi for life, after you fight them.
      • The common flying mounts in Avatar are the banshees. Bonding with one is seen as a rite of passage, and we see many Na'vi ride them (there are implications that most, if not all Na'vi have a banshee partner). The grand-daddy of all of Avatar's winged beasts in the aptly named Great Leonopteryx. Riding this creature (who looks even more dragon-like than the banshees) requires such badassery that Na'vi history records only six examples of someone doing it. This becomes a main plot point towards the end of the movie.
    • How to Train Your Dragon is about a young boy who finds a injured dragon and befriends it. There's quite a bit of dragon-riding in the trailers.
      • The dragon, in this case, actually does need a rider to operate the stabilizer prosthetic which lets him fly. Well, Toothless needs it anyway. The others in the climax not so much, but then again, the dragons aren't sapient in this setting.
        • For varying values of sapient. Toothless demonstrates extremely high levels of 'people smarts', but seems incapable of language (or other symbolic thinking), even to the point of being unable to recognize an artistic depiction of himself. For a comparison, see the 'stick drawing' scene, where Toothless doesn't understand that Hiccup is drawing a picture of him... but does understand that drawing in the dirt can be a bonding exercise, and that it would be disrespectful for one of them to step on the other's drawing.
      • YMMV, but that scene could also be read as Toothless being fascinated with Hiccup's drawing of him, therefore prompting Toothless to draw one of Hiccup. He just didn't like Hiccup messing up his picture. Although if that's true that means Toothless might even be more intelligent than what most thought.
      • One notable moment of said scene involves Toothless looking at Hiccup before adding a dot to his 'artwork.'
    • In Shrek, since Donkey romanced a female dragon, she happily provides him with speedy transportation.
    • Seems we're avoiding the mention of Eragon as a matter of not really wanting yet another movie of it.


    • The Valheru in Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar series are a race of Proud Warrior Guys. They are more commonly known as Dragon Lords for taming and riding dragons, across space, to wage war and plunder empires of other worlds.
    • Daine in Tamora Pierce's Immortals series does this once, but the dragons who allow her to ride them are looked down upon by the Dragonmeet. (They have a debt to repay her). In general, the dragons are far more educated and powerful than humans, and are happy to show it off.
    • Dragons in Dragonriders of Pern form a personal, psychic bond with their riders (whom they somehow choose) when they hatch and commit suicide without exception when their riders die.
      • This goes the other way to a slightly lesser extent- it's considered a rare exception when a rider survives losing his dragon. And the most of the ones that do end up committing suicide anyway.
      • Justified better than most other examples in that the dragons were genetically engineered specifically for that purpose. You see, the colonists didn't like technology that much and they needed something to incinerate the Thread before it reached the ground and ate everything organic.
        • It wasn't so much of a case of "didn't like technology" so much as "oh shit, this stuff will eat everything if we let it land on our homesteads, we don't know when it will stop falling, and the technology we have been using to fight it is falling apart because we thought we would have a lot more time to build up the technology base necessary to replenish it; time to engineer ourselves a self-replenishing fighting force from the indigenous fire-breathing lifeforms that have already shown that they can and will defend our homes."
    • The Nazgûls and their flying beasts in The Lord of the Rings count as a precursory example.
      • Although it's made fairly clear the mounts aren't dragons (which did exist in Middle-earth), but rather pterosaur-like creatures.
      • In The Silmarillion, Morgoth uses Balrogs mounted on dragons in several battles. However, prior to the War of Wrath, these were non-flying dragons.
    • The Inheritance Cycle copies Dragonriders of Pern pretty closely in this regard. There are a few interesting variances—for instance, humans who become riders tend to look slightly elvish after a while, and gain stronger-than-average magic power, making them decidedly less useless (especially since dragons in Inheritance Cycle can't use magic themselves, other than their innately magic abilities like breathing fire). Additionally, there is a lot of subtext that implies that while dragons in the wild are incredibly intelligent, it is only the ones that bond with elves/humans who have mastery over language and all the "civilized" attributes that entails, while the bonded elves/humans gain a ferocity and battle prowess of the dragon's natural killer instincts.
    • Naomi Novik's Temeraire series features dragon riders in an Alternate History version of the Napoleonic Wars—the dragons are used as living military airplanes or airships. Extremely maneuverable and self-aware airships, with flamethrowers, water cannons, acid bombs or sonic generators (different dragon breeds have different military uses). It's awesome.
      • Of course, the fact that the dragons are treated as living weapons rather than actual people becomes a major issue from the second book onward. For instance, the dragons start demanding civil rights.
    • Averted in Cerberon, unless you want to count Robert and Agnes riding on the back of Prince Aeronweyir, who's a dragon. They're only playing, since the Prince is fond of children. It's still awesome. The dragons are only about the size of a human, and are the ultimate masters of the world. They can magically enlarge themselves to carry others (one is large enough to carry two people and the carriage they're riding in). There is no such thing as Dragon Riders in this world.
    • Rhodry in the second Deverry series. As this dragon is not exactly a willing ally, he's needed to keep her under control.
      • Also played with a bit as Rhodry tries unsuccessfully to find a way to fight from dragonback. He ends up simply using the dragon to frighten the horses of the enemy, something that is valuable in itself as the enemy are horse nomads. (And a powerful magician makes the horses on Rhodry's side immune to the fear effect.)
    • The Wyrmberg sequence in Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic mercilessly parodies this trope and its users, most especially Pern.
    • Duly noted in this wiki concerning the completely made up book series Lord of Dragons.
    • Jane Yolen purposely avoids this in her Pit Dragon Chronicles. The protagonist bonds with a baby dragon and excitedly wonders if he can ride it when it gets big enough, but another character informs him that a dragon's bone structure isn't strong enough to support a person's weight, and the scales would tear his skin anyway.
      • Instead, she has cockfighting - with dragons!
    • Inverted in Bazil Broketail, the first of a series of novels by Christopher Rowley. The named character is a dragon, with no wings but bipedal (and can't breathe fire either), but he has (like all war-dragons of his culture) a squire (called a "dragonboy"), which is depicted on the cover as riding him. The dragonboy in the book (whose name escapes me) does camp chores and cooking, as well as the occasional fighting when things get hairy.
    • Parodied in The Halfblood Chronicles. One of the heroic Dragons gives a ride to a character who has just joined with the heroes. They both come away from the experience saying that it had to be the most uncomfortable way to travel imaginable.
    • Mercedes Lackey's The Dragon Jousters series features two warring countries each fielding jousters mounted on, you guessed it, dragons. The dragons in this series are small(ish), do not breathe fire, and are about as intelligent as the average apex predator, so they're arguably better off in captivity.
      • Well, the ones raised from the egg so that they imprint on their riders are, anyway. The wild-caught dragons are kept passive by being continuously drugged, and live a rather miserable existence. Thus, the protagonists are the ones who go through the effort of raising their own dragons.
    • The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory features dragon riders, most notably the elf Jermayan in the later books. Bonus points because apparently if a dragon lacks a rider they can't mate, and they can only properly bond with one person in their lifetime, but they're nigh-ageless, so that's all right.
    • Untwisted in Harry Potter of all places, when, in book 7, it turns out that trying to ride a dragon is a bad idea, and potentially hazardous to your health. Though they ride one anyway. The dragon was also very old and blind. So it was dangerous in the "Oh my god we're going to crash this dragon is flying entirely too fast aaauughh!" rather than "Oh my god this dragon is about to eat me because I won't get off its back aaauughh!"
      • To clarify, the dragon-riding was done out of desperation and the characters spend most of the ride considering the many, many ways it might get them killed.
    • In Dragon Slippers, the dragons are more than happy to allow their human friends to ride...if they ask first, and ONLY friends. in later books, some of the dragons object, thinking it below them to carry humans.
    • The world of Krynn, home setting of the Dragonlance saga, teems with intelligent flying dragons. Because the setting was developed during the 1980s to be a campaign world for Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying game, the dragons were Color Coded for Your Convenience into metallic dragons (good) and chromatic dragons (evil). Both sides, the Knights of Solamnia (followers of the good god Paladine, called the Platinum Dragon) and the Knights of Takhisis (followers of the evil Dragon Queen Takhisis) rode dragons into battle. Initially outnumbered, the side of good gained the upper hand once a famous smith, blessed by the gods, forged magical weapons called dragonlances for them. Dragonlances and dragon riders featured most notable in The Dragonlance Chronicles and the novel The Legend of Huma. (See also below the entry under "Tabletop Games").
      • Dragonlance recently spun off A Practical Guide To Dragons, and the first dragon-centric sequel was none other than A Practical Guide to Dragon Riding. The number one lesson in the book? Treat your dragon with respect because it knows it doesn't need you.
    • The Neverending Story features a "luckdragon" as a mount. (He's described much like an Eastern dragon with the face of a lion, but has more of a dog's face in The Film of the Book.)
    • Ged of the Earthsea Trilogy earns the title of Dragon Lord simply because he's one of the few humans the dragons will deign to speak with. So when the most ancient dragon gives him a lift home, that's pretty much a Crowning Moment of Awesome right there, and that's just at the start of his career as a mage.
      • Er, no. Kalessin (aka "Eldest") carries Ged back to his home island of Gont at the very end of The Farthest Shore, at which time he has lost all his power saving the world and is no longer a mage. It's the end of his career, and the whole thing is actually kind of heartbreaking, given that he's barely alive. He does save a good chunk of the Ninety Isles from the dragon Yevaud's predations by outwitting said dragon (an extremely badass move) in A Wizard of Earthsea, which was immediately after he became a mage.
    • Subverted rather cruelly in Harry Turtledove's Darkness sequence, where, while dragons are commonly used for aerial combat, they are nasty, foul-tempered, violent, and stupid creatures who have to be cruelly treated from birth in order to discourage them from killing their riders.
    • The Dragon Keeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul.
    • The Cornelia Funke novel Dragonrider is not as focused on this trope as one would expect. Though the main human character does in fact ride on the dragon's back, it's simply because this is the only way to transport him. Said dragon (Firedrake) is Walking the Earth, looking for a valley for the dragons to move to, and accquires the main human character as a Tagalong Kid, as he's a Heartwarming Orphan who Firedrake decides to help. However, it is stated that humans who bond with dragons and ride them do get some special powers, such as extended life and healing abilities, as they find out in a Pakistani village. Overall, though, this isn't too important to the plot.
    • In The Iron Dragon's Daughter, the dragons are mechanical beasts that are used as that 'verse's equivalent of fighter jets, complete with missiles. They are sapient, but their subservience is justified in that they cannot move, let alone fly or fight, without a pilot.
    • In Journey to the West, Xuanzang's horse gets eaten by a hungry dragon early in the pilgrimage to India. As penance, the dragon gets turned into a horse and is obliged to fill in for the horse it ate. Xuanzang never gets to ride the dragon in its natural dragon form, though.
    • The dragons of Melnibone and their riders are pretty much the island's military trump card...though limited by the fact that, by the time the stories are set at least, the dragons need a lot of sleep for every brief period of activity.
    • Shana, the half-elf protagonist of The Elvenbane, was Raised By Dragons and occasionally rides her brother Keman. However, it's very uncomfortable.
    • Dragonsdale is basically one of those stories for horse-crazy preteen girls, with a twist.
    • Nightpool, The Ivory Lyre, and The Dragonbards are about bards who form permanent emotional bonds with dragons. And ride them.
    • Thomas Whitehead of Dragon Companion is just a humble librarian, until he stumbles into a fantasy world, befriends a dragon, and learns that librarians and Dragon Companions are among the highest-ranked individuals in his new world.
    • Used as an aerial assault force by both the heroic and villainous wizards of Rick Cook's Wiz Biz series. Dragons in question are non-intelligent...but because of youth; when they get too old (and too smart) they're released. And, as one minor character found out the hard way, while a flight of them may look beautiful in the sky, you do not want to be in the stables if you're not one of the riders.
    • In Azure Bonds, a red dragon + enlarge spell + haste = dead god.
    • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Targaryens from Valyria rode dragons. The combination was potent enough that Aegon the Conqueror took over most of the continent of Westeros simply because he had three of them at his disposal while his opponents had never even seen a dragon before. However in the present-day time frame of the books (some 300 years after Aegon's landing) the dragons are now extinct. At least until Danaerys Targaryen resurrects three seemingly-fossilized dragon eggs and begins planning an invasion of similar scope to her ancestor's.
    • Subverted in Elizabeth Kerner's Song in the Silence. The humans are initially forbidden to cross into the dragon's territory, and killed on sight if they disobey. When a handful of humans eventually befriend the dragons, the dragons agree to be ridden for the sake of covering distance faster. However, the author notes that only with the human riding at the base of the dragon's neck is it even possible, and it is not terribly comfortable or practical for anything more than short distances. The dragons also carry humans while flying, but they have to keep the humans close to their scales to keep them from freezing, and landing while their forelegs are full is extremely difficult.
    • Several people end up riding dragons in the Sword of Truth series. It's established early on that red dragons, the most intelligent, devious ones, would never stoop to letting a human ride them, so the eventual riders have to pull some tricks to do it. In the first book, Darken Rahl blackmails a red dragon named Scarlet into serving as his mount by stealing its egg. Later on, Richard, in exchange for saving that egg, is allowed to ride Scarlet for the rest of the book, and once more as a favor in the next book. Much later on, the villainous Six uses Scarlet's hatchling as a mount, by taking Scarlet hostage.
    • In The Elric Saga Melniboné has dragons and dragon riders. By the time the stories take place, though, the dragons sleep most of the time and can only rarely be roused. Elric manages to get some to attack the forces of chaos in his final battle.
    • Havemercy features dragon riders pretty heavily, although the dragons are Clock Punk Magitech rather than biological creatures.
    • Possibly inverted in one of the Nightside novels, when a pair of Chinese wizards are seen in a bar, having the tiny dragon familiars that ride around in their pockets fight one another. Possibly also a subversion, as it's rumored that the wizards are illusions created by the little dragons, who use the apparent presence of big badass humans to keep anyone from bothering them.
    • Chronicles of the Emerged World features Dragon Knights, elite troops able to ride dragons in battle. When a dragon and a rider form a bond is forever, and Nihal is the only person who managed to tame a dragon who lost his rider. There are also the Azure Dragon Rider (riding the serpentine-looking Sea Dragons) and the Dark Dragon Riders like Dola, Deinoforo and the Creepy Twins Dameion and Sameion.
    • Attempted but subverted in the backstory of the FitzChivalry novels by Robin Hobb. In this universe it is possible to make a dragon by carving it out of a special stone and then placing your essence into it, basically becoming the dragon. One dragon-maker tried to dodge this by making her carving that of a girl on a dragon and putting herself only into the girl. It didn't work, and the result is a chimera with the girlas just another part of the whole dragon.
    • The Skybax riders of Dinotopia combine this trope with Ptero-Soarer.
    • Tow separate examples in the Age of Fire Series. In the first novel, dragons are being subjugated to be used as mounts, treated more like giant, firebreathing, horses, complete with castrating the undersireables. The later half of the book is around defeating them.
      • The second type is used by an actual dragon civilization. Humans bond with their dragons and get to ride on a saddle, but it's obvious that the dragon is in charge of that relationship.

    Live-Action TV

    Tabletop Games

    • Dragonlance, which partially justifies it by making most dragonriders warlords - the dragon is there precisely to show how awesome the general is to the troops (and the enemy). From a tactical perspective it is useful too - what general would not give his eyeteeth for an aerial view of the battle and the ability to get to trouble spots quickly?
      • Plus, the Greater Dragonlances can be used only on dragonback, and are the only weapons that can instantly kill a dragon. They won the Dragon Wars all by themselves.
      • Plus, what general wouldn't want to ride a giant dragon that scares the crap out of any enemy troops? There's a constant threat of a giant flying reptile of mass destruction pouncing on you and ending your life!
    • Dungeons & Dragons,
      • Partially subverted with wyverns, where flavor text details how attempts to raise Wyverns as mounts always end painfully for the would be rider (this doesn't stop supplements from doing it in any number of ways however).
        • Technically, wyverns in D&D aren't actually dragons, but a distant relative. They also look like this ; note the scorpion-like stinger on the tail. The tail that folds up over the body, perfectly placed to skewer any would-be rider.
      • Played straight with the fact that silver dragons and paladins are noted to get along fairly well together. Also partly avoids the redundancy part, as a dragon with an angry high-level paladin on its back is going to out-damage pretty much anything else that can take to the sky. Dragons, you see, are intelligent, strong, fast, tough warriors...that can cast spells. Paladins have touch-range healing spells... and as dragon riders, would by default be within touch-range of the dragon for the duration of the battle.
        • Leaving the paladin free to do...not much of anything at all, since dragons can do pretty much everything on their own. The truly devastating combination is a dragon mount (any dragon mount, but especially evil black dragons for fun and profit) with either a mage (2nd edition) or a cleric (3rd edition) on it's back. Double the spell-casting mayhem, quadruple the massacre.
      • The githyanki are noted to have an old pact with red dragons, who will occasionally deign to take them on as riders. How could one possibly augment the red dragon's general badassitude already? By adding Psychic Powers, that's how.
      • There's actually a Dragonrider prestige class in the all-dragons-all-the-time sourcebook Draconomicon, and though it doesn't treat dragons as particularly different from other mounts, it does grant immunity to a dragon's frightful presence. Most of its abilities revolve around various tricks in aerial combat. Unfortunately, there's nothing about the class that helps a character actually get a dragon to ride and the suggestions earlier in the book are either the time-intensive sort that would have to be worked into the character's background or ridiculously expensive.
      • The Dragon Samurai prestige class also gets a special ability that makes them better at riding dragons, and another that makes them better at convincing a dragon to let them ride him. A Githyanki Red Dragon Samurai with a red dragon as a mount would be too awesome to describe here.
      • A specific example was the Galadran Company in the Forgotten Realms setting, who were fortunate enough to befriend Galadaeros (first mentioned in Dragon #239) a copper dragon known for being overly fond of humans (something most dragons other than steel dragons would consider eccentric). Galadaeros used a magical device that turned the spires on his spine into metal rings, so the members of the company could use them as handlebars in order to ride on his back easier.
      • In the old Council of Wyrms setting, where players used dragon PCs, dragons would have "kindreds", humanoid servants who were bonded to them via ritual. The idea was for the kindred to to ride the dragon (assuming the dragon could fly, something that required a Feat) but without appropriate riding-related skills, the kindred couldn't do much except hold on. (The odd Skill and Feat system of the setting, which made little sense, is one of the reasons the setting failed to become popular.)
    • Dragons, one of the old Role Aides Writing Around Trademarks D&D supplements from the 80s, used this trope while subverting many of its assumptions: in it, it was the dragons who hit upon the idea of carrying an (unwilling and terrified) human rider around, in mocking imitation of human knights. What started out as a joke among dragons who kept human servants (those opposable thumbs can be useful) eventually grew into something closer to a partnership, but with the human still very much the junior partner in the relationship. The humans got to pretend to other humans that they were badass dragon-tamers, a charade the dragons tolerate because it keeps their human serfs content to think the rider is the boss; the dragons found it handy, because having a human there to position a big pointy stick upright on their backs in aerial combat discourages other dragons from dive-bombing their rider-bearing opponents.
    • One of the Steve Jackson Games Munchkin expansion packs adds a bunch of mounts (Horse, Tiger, Wolf, Chicken). The Dragon is the most powerful mount, but cannot be upgraded, because "It already flies, breathes fire, etc...", making it more powerful than most mounts but less powerful than a fire-breathing flying tiger.
    • Some generals in Warhammer Fantasy Battle occasionally ride into battle on dragon mounts, mostly from the High, Wood, or Dark Elf armies. There is only one Dragon available to the Empire, so only the Emperor gets to ride it. Undead generals can ride zombified dragons, while Chaos lords sometimes take to the skies on horribly mutated two-headed dragons. Orcs have access to Wyverns, which are more vicious but stupider and ignoble dragon offshoots, and Lizardmen generals instead get to ride the universe's equivalent to a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The game's background material mentions that dragons are rarely used as mounts anymore, since the few that remain spend much of their time sleeping, and it takes exceptional effort to rouse them for battle.
    • Though they haven't had (official) rules since the game's 2nd edition, Warhammer 40,000 has Exodite Eldar Dragon Knights, who are essentially space elves riding space dinosaurs and wielding laser lances. Oddly enough for a universe that relies on the Rule of Cool, the Exodites' more advanced cousins among the Craftworld Eldar and Dark Eldar don't bother with such primitive cavalry, because as awesome as dragons are, jetbikes and hovertanks are better.
    • Dragons in Exalted are typically treated with caution. They range from magical beasts to high-level gods. However, the Sidereal Exalted's final Ride charm allows them to turn an Ally, Acquaintance, or Familiar into a Lesser Elemental Dragon and ride them like a mount. Afterward, the target either turns back and goes into a persistent vegetative state, or continues as a dragon from then on, per the Sidereal's decision.
    • Magic: The Gathering has the Kargan Dragonlord, which uses the level up mechanic to start out as some random guy, who then gets a small dragon, then either upgrades or raises it to be a giant firebreathing one.
    • The Yu-Gi-Oh Card Game has a few of these, although some of them are fusions of two separate monsters (Gaia the Dragon Champion, Alligator's Sword Dragon).

    Video Games

    • Lance of the Elite Four in Pokémon Red and Blue. (and the champion of Pokémon Gold and Silver and their remakes) Also, any player character who teaches a Dragon-type (or Charizard or Aerodactyl) the move Fly is doing this too.
      • Also true for those that teach their Dragon-type the move Surf.
      • Ghetsis in Pokémon Black and White as well. He flies off on either Reshiram or Zekrom depending on your version at least once during the game.
    • The videogame Lair, although the less said about it, the better. One review of the game stated that while the gameplay was a little choppy, the sheer awesomeness of being able to ride around on a dragon kept its points up. Also, the dragons in Lair were not that intelligent, so they probably could be safely used by humans.
    • The game Drakken.
    • Also, the game Drakan: Order of the Flame and its sequel, The Ancients' Gates. Notable for their gameplay which balances the aerial dogfights and on-foot exploration very well.
    • The Dragon Knights from the Suikoden series.
      • An interesting interpretation of the "empathic link" shows up here as well. In order for the dragons to exist, someone must use the Dragon True Rune. This rune does not grant absolute control over dragons, but does allow the wielder to favorably command some of them, hence the dragon riders. If the wielder of the True Rune dies, then so do all the dragons, unless someone else takes the rune.
    • There is one portion of A Dance With Rogues that concludes with a very long-range flight on a white dragon. Unfortunately, the developers couldn't mess with the base Neverwinter Nights graphics enough to allow the character to ride a dragon onscreen.
      • Though the Dreamcatcher campaign lets you do so, but that one was a far more scripting-intensive and not quite as well written story
    • Dragon Riders are a recurring class in the Fire Emblem series. They're soldiers who ride non-fire-breathing dragons, usually only coming from a single country on the continent in question, and unlike most examples of this trope, they're generally very common in the enemy ranks. In most canons it's not specified where these dragons come from; the Akaneia canon is the exception, stating that they're degenerated descendants of the Manakete tribes. Their appearance and build is inconsistent throughout the series: they had only two legs in the first three games, became quadrupeds through the SNES and GBA eras, became vaguely bipedial in Path of Radiance before returning to quadruped status for Radiant Dawn onward. As if that's not fun enough, the naming for the class and creatures is quite the convoluted headache outside of Japan. For Blazing Sword, the first English release, they were renamed "Wyvern Riders" to distinguish them from the proper dragons which figured heavily into the plot of the game; Sacred Stones and Path of Radiance stuck to this. The Japanese version of The Sacred Stones introduced the "Wyvern Knight" class, ostensibly separate from the dragons of the Dragon Rider class and looking more like traditional wyverns; they were still called "Wyvern Knights" in the English version and the matter of their physical difference wasn't addressed. Radiant Dawn's translation discarded the "wyvern" name for the classes themselves, going with variations of "Dracoknight"; however, in dialogue the species are still called wyverns, again to differentiate from the game's fairly important actual dragons. This remained the case for Shadow Dragon, the last translated Fire Emblem game. Throughout the series, dragon riders have had a consistent presence, but aren't the most common playable class; indeed, most of them can only be obtained through recruiting them from the enemy. These are the playable or otherwise notable dragon rider characters from across the franchise:
      • Fire Emblem Akaneia: Minerva starts as one. Caeda, Est Palla, and Catria can promote to this, because somehow pegasi become dragons.
      • Fire Emblem Jugdral: Altenna
      • Fire Emblem Elibe: Zeiss, Miledy, Gale and Nacien in Sword of Seals; Heath (pictured above) and Vaida in Blazing Sword.
      • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: Valter, Glenn and Cormag are this by default. Tana and Vanessa can become this if promoted to the Wyvern Knight class (because again, somehow pegasi become dragons).
      • Fire Emblem Tellius: Jill and Haar are playable in both games. In Path of Radiance, Shiharam and Ashnard can be unlocked to use on the bonus Trial Maps.
        • It's also worth noting that despite appearing to be fearsome and dangerous creatures, sporting sharp claws, spiked tails, and rows of teeth, the dragons themselves never actually attack! The rider always does ALL of the attacking. Compared to their 'sister' flying mount class, the Pegasus Knights, dragon riders have different stat distribution, providing greater HP, Attack and Defense compared to the Speed, Skill and Resistance afforded by pegasus knights, probably because they're bulkier creatures with more weight to throw around. Having mounts able to attack on their own would probably screw up the game balance.
      • Fire Emblem: Awakening: Thanks to the class change and marriage systems, there can potentially be well over a dozen characters capable of using this class. Also notable for the fact that Manaketes Nono and Tiki are capable of using it, which would make them dragons (In human form) riding dragons.
    • Dragon Strike is one of the first classical examples.
    • An interesting play on the trope is the obscure Irem game Dragon Breed. You are a dragon rider, and the dragon is invincible - but the rider is not. If the rider gets hit, he is dead. Thus you must fly the dragon in a specific way to avoid getting the rider hit. Kinda like a fantasy version of R-Type.
      • Or kind of like the arcade game Joust... Okay, so they're Ostritch riders, but...
    • Variation in the Wild ARMs series. The dragons you convince to help you save the world serve as your airship. The variation comes from the fact that they're Mechanical Lifeforms that transform into jet fighters, so the heroes ride inside of them instead of on top of them.
      • And yes, you do have dogfights against similar dragons, as well as some Flying Saucers in a side quest you get from a paranormal investigator named Roswell. In Wild ARMs 3 at least.
    • Done well in Drakengard, where dragons hate humans as foolish weaklings. However, the dragon is dying and you need its help, so she makes a deal where she binds herself to you (with unfortunate side effects) to heal her. When on her back you serve no purpose as she's bad enough to take everything on. Your role is to hop off of her to take out ranged units (if they hit her while you're in the air, she throws you off after a couple hits).
      • In Drakengard 2, Legna is on much better terms with his rider, Nowe (having partially raised him); he accepts Nowe riding on his back because they get around faster that way.
    • Sega's Panzer Dragoon series. The dragon needing a rider to activate its weapon systems is justified as the Ancients' attempt to keep the dragon units from going nuts and killing everyone. Most of the games are rail shooters, with you on your dragon flying into a storm of enemy creatures and aircraft. The one non-SHMUP, an RPG, still had dragonriding as a central concept, with the dragon serving as your Global Airship, and all random battles taking place in mid-air with you strafing around your enemy to dodge attacks.
    • In Bahamut Lagoon, you can only field as many squads as you have dragons to ride. Those squads ride in on the dragons, but after that the dragon is an independent unit in combat.
    • In Hype - the Time Quest there are a number of sequences involving dragon riding. You have to persuade the dragon to let you, though.
    • The Acacia Dragoons from Chrono Cross ride dragons, but said dragons are rather small and silly-looking.
    • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has dragon riders as forces of the enemy nation of Aryglyph.
    • Well, if we're going that far, the Dragon Quest series has a lot of enemies that ride dragons, mostly as mid to late game enemies. They are extremely susceptible to anti-dragon techniques, implying that if the dragon dies, so does the rider.
    • Warcraft II had orcs dragon-riders. As explained in the novels, they used an Artifact of Doom to control Alexstrasza, the dragon queen, and use her children as mounts.
    • World of Warcraft features several types of dragon that can be acquired as mounts. Normally they can't do anything that would make a dragon preferable to any other flying creature (although it does look cool to fly around on a dragon). The latest expansion offers short quests in which players can commandeer a more badass dragon - raining down fireballs and swallowing enemies whole.
      • There's also Rend Blackhand, a dragon-riding boss. And in Wrath of the Lich King, a few quests/fights with dragon-riding.
    • The Akatosh Mount Game Mod for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
    • Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords allows you to recruit the high elf dragon rider Elistara as a party member. Not to mention the young gold dragon Flicker. After a few optional quests, the two can agree to be rider and steed, and a conversation with another dragon implies that such an arrangement, usually lifelong for the rider, can be seen by the dragons as the equivalent of going outside to play.
      • Players can also capture a wyvern to use as a mount, though they tend to make weak mounts (Despite being a pain to fight against)
    • Master of Magic features draconian Doom Drake riders. Yes, that means dragons riding dragons. There's also a hero, Fang the Draconian, who rides on one.
    • Some Final Fantasy games make the Dragoon class fully-fledged Dragon Riders, although you rarely play as one. The most notable examples are Final Fantasy V, with the tamed 'Hiryu' that serves as aerial transport, and Final Fantasy XI which allows the Dragoon class to summon a pet wyvern to aid them.
    • After you finish Draconia Bomb Factory in Alundra 2, riding a dragon becomes your main method of transportation.
    • The web RPG Dragon Fable, from the makers of Adventure Quest, features as part of the main plot the player acquiring the egg of one of two dragons of prophecy, hatching it, and under certain conditions making it grow to its full adult size to do battle with giant monsters. The main villain has the other one. Adventure Quest itself has the Guardian Blade, Dragon Slayer class, and Dracomancer class, all of which can be used to summon dragons as an attack.
    • Subverted by Fate/stay night. You'd think that the Servant Rider would be able to ride dragons, but even at an A Rank of the riding ability, she is unable to ride dragons.
    • Mario might be one, if one were to believe Yoshi is a dragon. Yoshi is a prime case of confusion via Dinosaurs Are Dragons, however.
    • In Space Harrier, you get to ride the good dragon Uriah during the bonus stages and the ending.

    Web Comics

    • In the turn-based-strategy universe of Erfworld, Dwagons [sic] are Stanley's most powerful units. They can operate solo, or warlords can ride them (granting leadership bonuses and the ability to selectively engage targets instead of simply attacking every enemy they encounter).
      • Dwagon-mounted warlords could also contribute quite a bit of power directly. Some of them can take out one or more dwagons single-handedly.
    • In Order of the Stick, Xykon rode a zombie dragon into the Battle of Azure City. It was also mentioned as being basically for show (and its bite attack) - after it was destroyed he just kept flying on his own anyway.
    • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob, Princess Voluptua will sometimes ride Hibachi the Dragon as a steed. Justified, because she is heir to the throne of the local space empire, and the dragons number among her subjects. She rides Hibachi mainly when she wants to look impressive or intimidate someone, as shown here. He may take other passengers for her, as here.
    • Inverted and played straight in Looking for Group. According to legend, the earliest humans were raised by dragons who used them as steeds and hoped evolution would force them to grow wings. Legara utilizes dragon cavalry in it's war on the North.
    • In an El Goonish Shive filler, Dan rented a dragon on his 24th birthday so he could ride it.
    • In Galactic Maximum, dragon support.
    • Homestuck: Redglare travelled around by riding on her enormous dragon lusus, Pyralspite. Pyralspite also was actively used for offence when pursuing criminals, best seen when it tore apart Mindfang's fleet with considerable ease. Redglare's descendant Terezi never got to do this with her own dragon lusus, which was killed by a meteor shortly after hatching.
    • Karate Bears ride dragons too!

    Web Original

    • Lindsay, from the Whateley Universe, codenamed Dragonrider can do this on her dragon Pern.
      • Pern's normal form is the size of a housecat, but he can grow really big when he needs to. Like if someone is being mean to Lindsay.
    • Subverted to some degree in a short story called My life as a Dragon Rider . Basically it involves a farm boy who becomes a dragon rider after he passes the challenge of worth whitch is basically just staying on for a couple of minutes .How did it happen was a he a chosen one nope he entered a pub and got into a fistfight with a guard .The fight somehow ends on a cliff where the farmboy is kicked over the edge lands on a dragon lands badly and gets stuck between two of its back spikes .

    Western Animation

    • The Dragon Booster animated series is basically about the dragon horseracing circuit. Though these are all various types of wingless dragons with magnetic powers that allow them to equip racing gear. The protagonist's is considered special in that it can grow flaps of skin and glide when powered up.
    • Avatar Roku. Also Firelord Sozin, before he started the custom of systematic dragon-slaying.
      • The Avatars seem to have this same type of relationship with their animal guides. Only Roku is shown with an actual dragon, though.
      • Aang does come pretty close, though, with his animal guide being a giant flying Bison, who serves the role in much the same spirit.
    • Dragon Flyz, the basic premise of the the entire cartoon. The intelligent of the protagonists' dragons varied as the plot demanded, with the enemy dragons always being stupid.
    • Xiaolin Showdown has Dojo, a Chinese dragon with the ability to sense the MacGuffins of the series and change size to anything from lizard-size to aircraft-size, and this usually serves as an international transportation method for the main characters. He's not much of a fighter though.
    • Lydia, the villain of Barbie and the Diamond Castle, has a loyal dragon as her main minion, and she occasionally rides on his back, especially when making her Not Quite Dead Entrance.
    • Jane and the Dragon is, well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Dragon is Jane's best friend and he allows her to ride him.
    • Kale and her dragon Grimm in Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders (carrying in a "dragon wagon" that she's sitting in).
    • Emmy and Max, usually with Cassie and Ord respectvely, on Dragon Tales, during their visit to Dragon Land, a society of generally very friendly dragons. Enrique in the third season as well, finally giving the Siamese twin dragons Zak and Wheezie a regular rider. Played for laughs in that when Enrique first mounts Zak and Wheezie, he thinks he's going to ride them like a horse, not realizing that they can fly. This is not entirely unreasonable on Enrique's part, however, as the wings of dragons in Dragon Land are quite small, and they clearly rely on magic to power their flight as well.