20 Differences Between How To Train Your Dragon And Its Source Material
January 29, 2019
[Contains SPOILERS for How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World]
How to Train Your Dragon has inspired many people, but did you know the films were loosely based off English author Cressida Cowell’s book series of the same name?
With the recent release of the final How to Train Your Dragon film, let’s examine some differences between the first two films along with the television series, Dreamworks Dragons and the original Cressida Cowell book series.
20. Hiccup’s Age
Our first point stems to Hiccup’s age in both the film and television franchise when he is introduced. In the books, Hiccup is almost 11 when he’s introduced in the first novel. In the first film and the early events of the first two seasons of the tv series, Hiccup is 15.
By the end of the book series, Hiccup is in his elder years. During the events of the second film, Hiccup is 20 as mentioned by his mother, Valka, and Gobber. In the third film, he’s 21 as a year has passed since the previous film. During the epilogue, he’s in his late 20s-early 30s as a few years have passed since he married Astrid and their children have grown beyond infancy.
19. Snotlout’s Name
Who doesn’t love Snotlout in the films and the television series? He’s Hiccup’s alleged arch-enemy, but a friend all the same. However did you know Snotlout’s name isn’t Snotlout Jorgenson in the books?
The books state that Snotlout’s name is Snotface Snotlout, but his fellow Viking kids just call him Snotlout.
18. Alvin the Treacherous
If you’re a fan of pirates, then you’ll love Alvin the Treacherous. Introduced in the second novel, How to be a Pirate, Hiccup and Fishlegs find Alvin in a coffin. From this book onwards, Alvin becomes Hiccup’s enemy. Also, Fishlegs is Alvin’s son.
Alvin doesn’t appear in the Dragons films, but he does appear as a character in the TV series. It’s revealed in the second season, Defenders of Berk that Alvin was once a Berkian. He and Stoick used to be best friends as kids until they had a falling out as adults.
The appearance of Alvin in both sources differ from him being a skinny dude in the books to his more solid build in the TV series.
Let’s just say Astrid Hofferson is regarded as the love of Hiccup’s life. Strong-willed and the second-in-command of the dragon riders, Astrid often has to pull the other riders into line. However, she doesn’t have a book counterpart in the way you might think.
In the books, one of Hiccup’s best friends is Camicazi, a girl who is the daughter of Big-Boobied Bertha, the chief of the Bog-Burglar tribe.
In the films and television series, her family doesn’t play any role as they doesn’t go into much detail. All we know is her Uncle Finn got frozen by the Flightmare. Oh, and she has an aunt that was told to sail to the end of the Earth.
According to Cressida Cowell, Camicazi is the shieldmaiden’s book counterpart, due to a couple of factors. The first factor is both characters are blonde. The second is they have dragons named Stormfly.
In the book series, Fishlegs is called Fishlegs No-Name while in the films and television series, his name is Fishlegs Ingerman. Like with Astrid, we don’t know much about Fishlegs’s family other than his mother cooks great crab cakes.
Another point we should look at is the idea that Fishlegs in the books is notably younger than his media counterpart. The Fishlegs in the books is also much more clumsy.
One of the biggest differences in the franchise overall is Toothless, Hiccup’s beloved dragon. In the books, Toothless is one of two different species of dragon. The first the Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus. Or, he’s a Common or Garden Dragon.
In the films and the television series, Toothless is a Night Fury, a rare species. Toothless is the only one of his kind. He was shot down by Hiccup to prove to his father he’s a Viking.
During the books, Hiccup’s mother, Valhallarama is still alive, but she’s often absent from Berk because she’s away on some quest. This leaves Stoick to raise Hiccup on his own most of the time.
In the media franchise, Hiccup’s mother is Valka who was believed to be eaten by dragons when Hiccup was a baby. However, he comes across her after a fight he has with Stoick about Drago and is letting off steam with Toothless. He later learns that Valka’s dragon, Cloudjumper had kidnapped her and had her live in a mountain as the secret keeper of the dragons.
When Valka returns to Hiccup’s life, she realises how similar they are and is increasingly supportive of his relationship with Astrid. She loves Astrid like a daughter and is able to talk her into giving Hiccup advice when he won’t listen to anyone else.
13. Isle of Berk’s Fate
The Isle of Berk in both the books and the media franchise had dragons from the word go. However, there were differences to the fates of the villages.
In the books, the village was razed to the ground by a dragon.
In the final film, the Berkians are forced to abandon their home when Grimmel the Grisly threatens to take their dragons. As chief, Hiccup proposes they get under the radar so they can’t be found.
12. Disappearance of Dragons
The most important aspect to the How to Train Your Dragon story in both sides of the franchise is how the dragons disappear. The epilogue of the final book explains that a dragon sighting was a rare occurence in Hiccup’s elder years.
In The Hidden World, a battle endures between the Berkians and Grimmel the Grimmel who wants to wipe dragons out and Toothless is his main target as he wants the Night Fury species to be be wiped from the face of the Earth. After the battle, Hiccup decides to set Toothless free to be with the Light Fury. The other dragons join them in the Hidden World.
A few years later, a now married Hiccup and Astrid take their young daughter and son to find Toothless and the Light Fury. Toothless lands on their boat, not recognising his former rider or his wife. The blonde is forced to shield the kids in case Toothless has reverted back to being wild. Once he smells Hiccup – who know sports a beard – he realises who it is and pounces on him much to the horror of the kids. Hiccup summons them over and tells them to hold out their hands. They do so and Toothless immediately accepts them. Their mother tells them Toothless is a friend and won’t eat their father.
11. Dagur and Heather
In the books, Dagur and Heather don’t exist as characters and were created exclusively for the television series. However, Dagur’s characteristics mirror Norbert the Nutjob from the novels.
10. Ruffnut and Tuffnut
What’s not to love about the Thorstons? Ruffnut and Tuffnut Thorston are the media franchise’s comic relief and are often pretty smart when they want to be. However, did you know that there no Thorston twins exist in the books?
Tuffnut was a character in the books but under the name Tuffut Junior. Yes, he had a father with the same name. Oh, and he didn’t have a twin. In the films and the television series, Tuffnut is one of a kind. Ruffnut, however, is an original character who didn’t exist in the books and wasn’t Tuff’s twin sister.
09. Hiccup and Snoutlout’s Relationship
The relationship between Hiccup and Snotlout is very different between sources. So is their relationship. In the books, the pair are paternal cousins through their fathers who happen to be brothers.
In the media franchise, they aren’t related in any way. There is no reference to their fathers being related.
08. Stoick’s Dragons
Fans of the media franchise will remember Stoick has two dragons. The first was a Thunderdrum he named Thornado. The second was a Rumblehorn he named Skullcrusher. He rode both dragons in the television series before Skullcrusher was used in How to Train Your Dragon 2.
In the books, Stoick had three dragons. One of those dragons was named Hookfang, which became the name of Snotlout’s Monstrous Nightmare in the media franchise. The other dragons Stoick had were a Gronkle named Newtsbreath and Bullheart.
07. Hiccup’s Grandfather
In the books, Hiccup’s grandfather, Old Wrinkly plays a role in his life. In the media franchise, Old Wrinkly is nowhere to be seen and his role is kinda filled by Gobber who’s like an uncle and second father to Hiccup. However, a portrait of Hiccup’s paternal grandfather is seen in an episode of the television series and there’s a reference to Hiccup’s grandparents in a flashback in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.
Now, you’re probably wondering why pirates is on this list. In the books, pirates had a reoccuring role as the character, Alvin the Treacheous was a pirate and the father of Fishlegs No-name and a distant relative of the Haddock family.
In the books, Snotlout’s father is Baggybum the Beerbelly, the brother of Stoick the Vast, Hiccup’s father. Baggybum was the uncle of the young Viking heir. However in the media franchise, Snotlout’s father is Spitelout and he is not a brother of Stoick.
Like his book counterpart, Spitelout is a constant rival to Stoick and is always telling his son to upstage Hiccup at every turn.
In the Dreamworks Dragons TV series, Gobber gains his own dragon in Grump, a Hotburple. He rescues the dragon from Dragon Hunters after flaling in love with him because the creature mirrored him in every aspect.
In the books, Gobber’s dragon is a Bullrougher named Goliath who got killed.
Gothi was Berk’s sharwoman. She was mute and used scribbles to communicate. The little woman would hit people with her staff if they said or did something she didn’t like. She officiated ceremonies like the crowning of new chiefs and weddings as she crowns Hiccup as Berk’s new chief and married him and Astrida year later.
The character does not exist in the books. Though, Producer Bonnie Arnold has said Gothi is based off Old Wrinkly from the novels.
02. Gobber’s Sexuality
Gobber’s sexuality isn’t stated in the book series as its children’s novel series. In the second film, its hinted that Gobber was gay and its implied in the third film. After the release of the second film, director Dean DuBois confirmed Gobber’s sexuality.
01. Hiccup and Fishlegs’ Friendship
The TV series depicts the growing friendship between Hiccup and Fishlegs. The films don’t dive into the friendship as much as the story is primarily about Hiccup and Toothless. In the books, Hiccup and Fishlegs are inseparable and have best friends since they were little kids.
During the first film, Hiccup and Fishlegs aren’t friends, but according to the television series, the pair were friends when they were little as Hiccup mentions he hadn’t seen Fishlegs so exicted when they went to find Dark Deep and that he last time he had was Snoggletog when they were kids.
The differences between the media and book franchises are staggering if you stop and consider it. Though, the filmmakers are to be applauded for adding references to the original material within the medium. It’s nice to see the filmmakers didn’t ruin the book franchise and wanted to keep as much information from the books as they could.
What other changes did you guys see in the media franchise that didn’t exist in the books? Let us know below!