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Why The 'How To Train Your Dragon' Movies Are One Of The Best Trilogies You’re Not Watching

Updated October 1, 2019 1.1k votes 140 voters 4.6k views12 items

List RulesVote up all the reasons why this trilogy is fantastic.

How To Train Your Dragon sounds like a tongue-in-cheek instructional video, but it's one of the top animated movie series released in the last few decades. The designation is a big deal considering fierce competition with Pixar and Disney animated films like The Incredibles 2 and Coco.

Fortunately, this DreamWorks franchise achieved new heights for the studio. Adapted from a series of fantasy children's novels and featuring breathtaking action pieces and stunning visuals, How To Train Your Dragon elicits genuine emotions about a cartoon dragon and his Viking caretaker. While the original film was well-received, the 2014 sequel surpassed all expectations. The February 2019 third installment, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, rounds out the surprisingly moving saga. And if you like this movie, check out our dragon movies list.

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    The Dragons Have Big Personalities

    Photo: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    On-screen dragon portrayals are challenging because some dragon iterations show intelligent and sentient creatures, while others offer bonafide monsters. Mythological origins mean filmmakers can make such representations unique to the storyline. How To Train Your Dragon animators culled inspiration from real animals.

    Of this characterization, DreamWorks animator Simon Otto told Empire: "Toothless is a cross between a black panther, a bat, and a small bird of prey. He also has some snake influences in his design and his behavior is a mixture of cat, dog, horse, and a whole lot of other odd animals, such as wombats, kangaroos, etc."

    Combined with incredible character designs, the dragons have powerful and multidimensional personalities that bring the movie to life. 

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    The Films Emphasize Empathy And Togetherness

    Photo: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    The How To Train Your Dragon series is full of uplifting messages. The most notable is accepting who you are instead of conforming to the expectations of other people. The movies also emphasize compassion and empathy, and they teach that aggression isn't always the answer to conflict. 

    The films also demonstrate how people are often better together than they are as individuals.

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    The Movies Tell A Very Emotional Story

    Photo: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    It's not unusual for family movies, especially animated versions, to have a few sad moments. A cartoon film that brings a single tear to your eye, however, doesn’t compare to the How To Train Your Dragon franchise. These movies are full of emotional moments and storylines crafted to pull your heartstrings in every direction.

    From long-awaited family reunification scenes and sincere dialogue to truly devastating losses that feel as real as they would in live action, the franchise doesn't shy away from big feelings.

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    The Films Are Genuinely Funny

    Photo: © 2019 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

    How To Train Your Dragon finds humor in unique areas of the narrative. Rather than focus on references to pop culture or other trendy jokes, the characters and the story serve to make the movies funny.

    There are plenty of genuine laugh-out-loud moments to strike a perfect balance with more dramatic or emotional situations throughout the rest of the films.

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