|Trope · Genre|
|Related:||AU, Magic AU, Were-Animal|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
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Dragon AU is a term that can apply to any number of disparate types of fantasy AU common in fanfic. At its most basic, a "dragon AU" is any AU fic where dragons exist, either secretly or as a common part of the environment, and are important to the plot. The details of these fics can vary from a wholesale fusion or crossover with a pre-existing universe that has dragons, such as Pern, to the characters secretly being dragons themselves or merely having dragons as pets.
Dragon AUs can broadly be sorted into two categories: stories where dragons are simply a prominent part of the worldbuilding and stories where characters are (usually secretly) a dragon. There is no real distinction between these two types of fic on AO3, although sometimes fic where a character is a dragon will be tagged with "Dragon [Character Name]," and the distinction becomes even less clear on sites like Wattpad where the tagging system is less robust or even FanFiction.Net where only limited information can be tagged.
Fic where dragons are simply a prominent part of the worldbuilding are most often a fusion or crossover with a preexisting world where dragons feature prominently. In addition to Pern, common fandoms for this type of AU include Temeraire and How to Train Your Dragon. A Harry Potter AU can also often prominently feature a dragon, and canon Harry Potter fic often features canon divergence involving the dragons from the First Task in the Triwizard Tournament.
The second type of dragon AU, where a character is a dragon, encompasses several sub-tropes. This type of fic usually invokes Were-Animal or Animal Transformation, sometimes by way of magic, but it can also involve a character simply being a dragon.
Popularity and Spread
On AO3 this trope is seen most often in Marvel Cinematic Universe, Boku no Hero Academia, and BTS stories. The popularity of this trope in Marvel Cinematic Universe fic can likely be attributed to the importance of dragons in Marvel Comics. From actual dragon characters, such as X-Men's Lockheed and reoccurring characters such as Fin Fang Foom, to characters like Danny Rand and Moondragon that feature dragons prominently in their backstories, Marvel fandom has a number of ways to incorporate dragons into a story. Owing to the popularity of the fantasy setting in the third ED, where Kirishima appeared as a dragon, the Boku no Hero Academia fandom has "Dragon Kirishima Eijirou" Accessed 29 Nov 2020, when the number of works in the tag was 783. The popularity has spread to other characters too, leading to the less popular tags "Dragon Bakugou Katsuki" and "Dragon Midoriya Izuku."
Unlike the former two fandoms, there is no particular reason for the BTS fandom to use this AU. Even so, the most popular member to be made into a dragon is Suga. The "Dragon Min Yoongi" tag on AO3 has racked up a total of 63 uses as of 29 Nov 2020. 
There are also several cases of "Dragon [Character Name]" being canonized on AO3. Possibly as a result of Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch also appearing in The Hobbit films, with Benedict Cumberbatch playing the dragon Smaug, "Dragon Sherlock Holmes" is a canonized tag on AO3 with almost 300 works.
Resources and Links
- "Alternate Universe - Dragons" tag. Accessed 29 Nov 2020, when the top three fandoms appearing in the tag were MCU, Boku no Hero Academia, and BTS.
- "Dragon Kirishima Eijirou" tag on AO3. Accessed 29 Nov 2020, when the number of works in the tag was 783.
- "Dragon Bakugou Katsuki" tag on AO3. Accessed 29 Nov 2020, when the number of works in the tag was 91.
- "Dragon Midoriya Izuku" tag on AO3. Accessed 29 Nov 2020, when the number of works in the tag was 81.
- "Dragon Min Yoongi" tag on AO3. Accessed 29 Nov 2020, when the number of works in the tag was 63.
- "Dragon Sherlock Holmes" tag on AO3. Accessed 29 Nov 2020, when the number of works in the tag was 277.