Dragons are the stuff of legends.
In fiction, they’ve been around for as long as several millennia – either as mythical beasts worthy of respect and admiration, or abominable monsters portrayed as villains.
And let’s be honest: dragons are pretty darn awesome. They’re like proof of the limitless potential of our imagination.
If we turn to the world of anime then we can find plenty of dragons – so let’s go through of the most iconic ones across all anime series.
Beware, for ahead be dragons.
Anime: Sword Art Online
Starting off our list we have one of the cutest dragons in anime.
I used “one of” because there are surprisingly quite a few of them… but I would say Pina is definitely on the upper tier of the cuteness chart.
Pina is a young feathered dragon that was also the very first monster ever tamed in Aincrad. It’s Silica’s beloved pet, and it often followed her around even in other games.
At one point, Pina even sacrificed itself just to save Silica from an attack that would have killed her — also making it one of the kindest dragons in my book.
Plus it can heal other characters too.
It’s a kind and gentle priest-type character that everyone would love to have in their party — only it’s a dragon.
16. Veldora Tempest
Anime: That Time I Reincarnated as a Slime
Veldora is one of the four known True Dragons in his series, and by extension, is one of the strongest characters in the SlimeVerse.
He was once sealed by a former hero, making him one of several dragons (or monsters in general) who fit the “sealed monster” trope.
What separates him from the rest is that he’s not full-on evil and tyrannical.
He’s far from it, actually.
Sure he’s often hotblooded and battle-hungry. But it’s mostly just because of his draconic ancestry and upbringing.
On one hand, he’s also a caring and loyal friend to Rimuru, and is usually a pretty chill laid-back guy when things aren’t hectic.
Anime: Dragon Ball
To be honest, I think only a few Dragon Ball fans (especially the new ones) probably know or remember Icarus. And that makes me feel a little bummed out.
After all, Icarus was an integral part of Gohan’s childhood for quite some time. And was one of the few non-humanoid creatures featured in the show.
Icarus is a juvenile dragon that used to hang around Gohan a lot — especially in the earlier episodes of DBZ and the movies.
It’s fast, strong, and brave, despite its rather diminutive size. And it was basically Gohan’s “Flying Nimbus” until he learned how to fly.
Ryūkotsusei is our first big, bad, and evil dragon who rightfully deserved everything that happened to him.
He’s an arrogant and selfish monster who once terrorized an entire province until he was sealed by Toga — Inuyasha and Sesshomaru’s late father.
However, sealing the powerful dragon came at a cost, as Toga died shortly after doing so.
Thankfully karma did its magic in the end, as Ryūkotsusei then battled Inuyasha himself a few times — all ending in a bitter but well-deserved defeat for the dragon.
In addition to being one of the few non-legendaries that has the highest base stats in every Pokémon game, Dragonite is also famous for being one of the most iconic Pokémon in the history of the series.
As it should be.
It is, after all, so awesome that only top-tier veteran trainers such as Clair, Lance, and Ash (though it took him a while) are among the very few who have ever caught one.
It’s strong, fast, and durable as all hell.
And it also looks kind of badass (and scary) when it’s angry.
Simply put, it’s the perfect dragon Pokémon for trainers who want to be taken seriously. Because the odds of catching and training one (in the anime at least) seem pretty slim.
12. Blue Dragon
Anime: Blue Dragon
Blue Dragon is a character that was adapted from a video game called — you guessed it — Blue Dragon.
While that might sound a little redundant, it does tell you what the show is about and highlights one of the most pivotal characters in it.
Blue Dragon is the manifestation of Shu’s shadow. And he allows Shu to fight with incredible physical feats and abilities — all while just hanging around his user’s back.
Putting aside the similarities with a Stand from the JJBA, Blue Dragon is a proud and stubborn dragon who fortunately mellowed out all thanks to Shu and his friends.
Anime: Fairy Tail
Igneel is one of the many dragon characters in Fairy Tail, in addition to being one of the strongest.
Arguably, Igneel is also the most upstanding and noble of them all – as he was kind enough to be a loving father to Natsu before he left.
My speculation is that he probably went to buy milk just like my dad did 20 years ago… then again, that’s just me.
Unlike most fathers though, he doted on Natsu while keeping him disciplined and well-taught at the same time.
But he’s also shown to be proud (big surprise) and arrogant because of his heritage, and tends to get a little irrational and angry at times.
Well, it’s not like these few flaws are enough to offset his good deeds at all. The father of the century, everyone!
10. Tohru Kobayashi
Anime: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Tohru isn’t like your run-of-the-mill big scary dragon.
And that’s why most of us anime fans love her.
Sure, her dragon form looks every bit as intimidating as any dragon out there. But she’s actually very friendly and cheerful underneath all those thick green scales.
And in her demihuman form, I daresay that her more adorable traits are even multiplied tenfold.
Furthermore, she’s also the perfect drinking buddy, as we’ve already seen during her first meeting with Kobayashi.
Apparently all you need to get on her good side are some cold ones and a talk.
Of course, you’d also need to have the guts to approach a dragon that’s over four stories tall.
Anime: Tsukimichi: Moonlit Fantasy
Just like Tohru, Tomoe is a dragon who spends most of her time in the series in her demihuman form.
But unlike Tohru who mirrors the look of the dragons in western mythology, Tomoe takes on the form of an oriental dragon whenever she transforms.
Moreover, she’s the opposite of everything you might expect from a creature of her stature.
By that I mean she’s more easygoing and lax, rather than excessively proud and intense.
All the more reason why she’s one of the more unique entries on this list, much like Tohru.
This Pokémon doesn’t have one of the most sought-after trading cards for no reason.
Charizard — lore-wise — is among the first dragon-type Pokémon that was ever introduced in the original series.
It is also one of Ash’s original starter Pokémon during his humble beginnings back in the Kanto Region – and this is arguably Ash’s strongest Pokémon alongside Pikachu.
And considering that Ash has already caught a ton of Pokémon ever since his younger days, staying near the number one spot is not an easy feat at all.
Luckily Ash’s Charizard is more than up to the task.
Seriously, that fiery lizard is strong.
Anime: One Piece
Kaido has gotten ahold of the rarest and strongest Zoan-type Devil Fruit in the entire One Piece universe. And it shows.
After eating the Uo Uo no Mi (Fish Fish Fruit), he became so darn strong that he actually has a hard time believing that he could even die.
Now that’s the level of confidence we should all aspire to have!
Then again, that might be a bit too difficult, since I’m guessing we can’t all turn into a nigh-unkillable dragon at will.
Oh, and I guess most of us also don’t have an entire army made up of the strongest Zoans in the world. Welp, never mind then.
Anime: Dragon Ball
Porunga is the only dragon in Dragon Ball whose name doesn’t include “Shenron” in it.
And sure, his much smaller cousin might have more incarnations than he does (e.g. Omega Shenron, Ultimate Shenron, Super Shenron, etc.)
But Porunga is no slouch either.
Simply put, he’s the roided-up version of the original Shenron, who can grant three wishes instead of just one.
Who needs the Genie of the Lamp if you’ve got the balls to summon this guy? And yes, I meant that both literally and figuratively.
I mean, just look at how terrifying this dragon looks compared to Shenron.
Anime: Fairy Tail
Speaking of terrifying, Acnologia is such an imposing antagonist that he will always be mentioned when it comes to discussing the biggest and baddest anime villains of all time.
In fact, I think he’s a good representation of Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote:
“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
Chilling words, right?
It makes perfect sense, because we have to remember that Acnologia wasn’t born a dragon.
He just killed so many of them that he eventually became one.
And when it comes down to it, there’s no denying that he became something even worse than those creatures he had slain.
Anime: Spirited Away
Haku is the co-protagonist of Spirited Away — a movie that’s widely and rightfully considered as one of the very best of its kind.
He looks no older than an early teenage boy in his human form, but he often conducts himself in a calm and mature manner.
Moreover, he’s also understanding, kind, and protective especially to Chihiro whom he considers as a true friend.
Haku isn’t like most dragons in anime, in the sense that he exhibits a bit more grace and tact — although he still does have his less dignified moments.
3. Kanna Kamui
Anime: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
We’ve already gone through several dragons who all look like they get their kicks by terrorizing entire kingdoms…
But what about the most adorable dragon in anime?
Kanna is the complete package.
She’s strong, she’s cute (understatement of the year), and most of all, she looks graceful as heck in her dragon form.
She’s everyone’s favorite loli/prankster dragon who, like Tohru, has grown to be unbiased and kind towards humans.
Honestly, seeing the scenes with her and Kobayashi together often reminds me of your typical wholesome mother and daughter moments.
Only in this case, the daughter is actually a 300-year-old dragon who could level an entire city if she gets serious in battle.
2. Blue-Eyes White Dragon
There’s no doubt that the Blue-Eyes White Dragon is one of the most well-known monster cards in the entire Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.
This popularity, of course, is mostly because of everyone’s favorite rich kid in anime — Seto Kaiba.
He just seems to love using this card so damn much…
Even if it doesn’t usually work out for him in the end.
And I don’t know if Seto photocopies his cards or what, but he always seems to keep an outrageous amount of Blue-Eyes cards in his deck.
Not gonna lie though, the dragon does look pretty darn sick.
I can’t really say I blame Seto for being too obsessed with it.
Anime: Dragon Ball
For our top spot, we have the OG – and arguably the most popular anime dragon of all time.
What makes Shenron special is that the entire series often revolves around him (just look at the title!) rather than him just being some “Deus ex machina” plot device.
Well, at least it used to be that way before Goku and his friends eventually transitioned into fighting gods rather than actually collecting Dragon Balls.
Sorry, Shenron. At least Dragon Ball GT did you some justice, no?
Nevertheless, it’s still undeniable that there are no other dragons in anime that can match Shenron when it comes to his legendary status.
If you were looking for the best anime dragon ever, then your wish has just been granted.
After all, none can ever beat this fantastic genie/dragon hybrid.
At least not in my book.