Recent fantasy stories like Game of Thrones can often feature dragons as vicious and animalistic creatures, but Netflix’s The Witcher showed off a dragon that was the exact opposite of those qualities. While the larger Witcher franchise has featured battles between dragons and Geralt of Rivia before, the streaming series avoided this by having the monster hunter come face to face with an intelligent and mostly pacifistic dragon. He even ended up joining forces with the mythical beast.
In “Rare Species”, the sixth episode of The Witcher‘s first season, Geralt is offered the chance to join in a hunt for a green dragon that recently devastated a bit of countryside. Geralt hesitates at first, but when he finds out that his true love Yennefer is in the hunting party he joins up. Eventually, it’s revealed that the green dragon wasn’t malicious but rather a mother who died defending her newly laid egg which the local humans had threatened. Along with that, the man who offered Geralt the job, Borch Three Jackdaws, turns out to be the golden dragon Villentretenmerth in a human form. The dragon tells Geralt and Yennefer that he is the father of the egg, and together they all defend it from the other human hunters.
What makes the golden dragon Villentretenmerth so different from the more mindlessly violent dragons in Game of Thrones is that he’s actually a fully formed character. He’s able to speak, and on top of that, he’s intelligent, poised, and for the most part not violent except for when he’s defending his family. The reason why this is may be a deliberate choice on the part of the creators to differentiate The Witcher from Game of Thrones, which is by far the most popular gritty fantasy show in TV history, meaning that audiences were inevitably bound to compare the two.
While the dragon that Geralt of Rivia comes across is unique when compared to Game of Thrones, talking dragons are not uncommon in fantasy fiction as a whole. Probably the other most famous use of dragons comes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, where the dragon Smaug while still very evil was able to have a full conversation with Bilbo Baggins. Then there are series like The Inheritance Cycle where talking dragons are a central element of the story. Along with these, many Chinese and East Asian myths and fantasy stories depict dragons in a more benevolent fashion.
By choosing to create a “monster” that is ultimately far more moral and kind than those hunting it, The Witcher once more establishes the message it has around public perception not always being correct, even when it comes to colossal carnivorous creatures.