Like many sci-fi, fantasy geeks, I love dragons. Below are a list of my top ten dragons appearing on film or TV. They are purely subjective choices, of course, but I'll endeavor to briefly explain why each was chosen.
10. Toothless (How to Train your Dragon, 2010)
A 'silly' movie, yes, but Toothless was awesome. Who WOULDN'T want a pet/companion like him. He stands out as a very unique design of dragon, too- not quite like any others. In fact, that is one of the things I like about the movie in general, the variety and creativity of the various dragons.
9. "Red Death" (How to Train Your Dragon, 2010)
The primary villain of this otherwise lighthearted film, the Red Death was truly terrifying in scale and appearance. The scenes of its aerial battle with Toothless were awesome, cartoony or no. And again, the design of the beast was unique- like nothing I'd ever seen before.
8. Tiamat (Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon, 1983)
A recurring nemesis in the Saturday morning cartoon, Tiamat is an awesome design. I especially liked her five-headed design, with each head able to spew a different kind of breath- from acid to fire to ice to poison gas and lightning. It was cool that she looked and 'performed' according to her stats in the D&D game. Unfortunately, she was also a bit wussified, be defeated rather easily by the kids in the show on several occasions.
7. Sokurah's Dragon (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 1958)
A true classic of stop-motion animation, this guard beast for the evil wizard Sokurah was probably one of the best examples of that art- as was its epic battle with a giant Cyclops at the end of the film. This dragon was unique in that it was wingless- but to me, this gave it an interesting 'eastern' look, which fit well with the Arabian Nights setting.
6. Male Dragon (Reign of Fire, 2002)
Though I had a lot of problems with the film itself, I could not fault it on the design and implementation of the dragons. They were truly terrifying, and none more so than the gigantic 'Male' of the species. The scene where he burns down the survivor's castle was awesome, as was the final confrontation in the ruins of London.
5. Hungarian Horntail (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005)
The screen version of the show-down between Harry and this dragon was a lot better than what I had cooked up in my imagination while reading the book. The whole battle over the castle, with the dragon scrabbling over slate tiles on the high towers...well, it was just awesome, and really drove home the 'seriousness' of the tournament in a way the scene in the book didn't quite achieve.
4. Draco (Dragonheart, 1996)
One of the earlier CGI dragons, Draco was truly awesome for his time. Unfortunately, he hasn't' aged well. The CGI looks pretty mediocre now (but still better than almost everything you see on the SyFy channel). What made Draco truly memorable was his personality and (of course) voice acting by Sean Connery. That come-hither "Helooo" when he spies the sheep. Classic.
3. Malificent (Sleeping Beauty, 1959)
Okay, so she's a sorceress changed into a Dragon, I don't care. Malificent is one of the most terrifying dragons ever brought to the screen, and her battle with Prince Philip at the end of the movie was epic- I mean, she actually died by having a sword stabbed into her heart. That wasn't common for Disney movies.
2. Smaug (The Hobbit, 1977)
I remember seeing this dragon for the first time on TV when I was a little kid. The scene with Smaug scared me. A lot. The voice is what really sold it- low, rumbling- seemingly bored, but seething with barely contained anger. Then there were the eyes, shining like twin spotlights as they scanned the room to find little Bilbo Baggins. Yeah. Smaug was memorable- and I can't wait to see what they do with him in the new hobbit movie.
1. Vermithrax Pejorative (Dragonslayer, 1981)
"The Worm from Thrace who makes things worse". Freaking awesome name. I own the DVD to this and I am still amazed at how well the animation of the dragon holds up. I'd say that it has held up MUCH better than some CGI beasts (sorry Draco). For me, old Vermithrax is the best dragon yet presented on the screen- the scenes of her flying through the clouds are still awe inspiring and her bat-like crawling through her caves is still creepy and terrifying. A truly classic design and implementation.