Animated Film and Television

20 Differences Between How To Train Your Dragon And Its Source Material

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How to Train Your Dragon has inspired many people, but did you know the films were loosely based on English author Cressida Cowell’s book series of the same name but have many differences?

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 stemmed from Hiccup’s age in the film and television franchise when he was introduced. In the books, Hiccup is almost 11 when he’s presented 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 movie. DurinFinally, 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 films and 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 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.

Moreover, Alvin doesn’t appear in the Dragons films. However, he does appear as a character in the TV series. In the second season, Defenders of Berk revealed 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 differs from him being a skinny dude in the books to his more solid build in the TV series.

17. Differences Between Astrid And Camicazi

Astrid Hofferson is regarded as the love of Hiccup’s life. Strong-willed and the second-in-command of the dragon riders, she often has to pull the other riders into line. However, as you might think, she doesn’t have a book counterpart.

Furthermore, 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 don’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 several factors. The first factor is both characters are blonde. The second is they have dragons named Stormfly.

16. Fishlegs

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 besides his mother cooking excellent crab cakes.

Another point we should look at is that Fishlegs, in the books, is notably younger than his media counterpart. The Fishlegs in the books are also much more clumsy.

15. Toothless

One of the most significant differences in the franchise is Toothless, Hiccup’s beloved dragon. In the books, Toothless is one of two different species of dragon. The first was 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 that he was a true Viking.

14. Valka

During the book, Hiccup’s mother, Valhallarama, is still alive but 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 is believed to be eaten by dragons when Hiccup was a baby. However, he comes across her after a fight 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 on 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 can 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 the books and the media franchise had dragons from the word go. However, there were differences in the fates of the villages. 

In the books, the village was razed to the ground by a dragon. 

In the final film, the Berkians 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 crucial aspect of the How to Train Your Dragon story on both sides of the franchise is how the dragons disappear. The final book’s epilogue explains that a dragon sighting was rare in Hiccup’s elder years.

In The Hidden World, a battle between the Berkians and Grimmel, who want to wipe dragons out, and Toothless is his main target as he enjoys the Night Fury species being wiped from the face of the Earth. After the battle, Hiccup decides to free Toothless 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 wife. The blonde is forced to shield the kids if Toothless reverts to being wild. Once he smells Hiccup – who now sports a beard – he realises who it is and pounces on him, much to the kids’ horror. 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

Dagur and Heather aren’t characters in the books and were created exclusively for the television series. However, Dagur’s characteristics mirror Norbert the Nutjob from the novels.

10. Differences With The Portrayal Of 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 no Thorston twins exist in the books?

Tuffnut was a character in the books but under the name Tuffnut Junior. So yes, he had a father with the same name. Oh, and he didn’t have a twin. In the films and television series, Tuffnut is one of a kind. Ruffnut is an original character who didn’t exist in the books and wasn’t Tuff’s twin sister.

09. The Differences Between 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 are brothers.

In the media franchise, they aren’t related in any way. There is no reference to their fathers being related.

08. Differences Between 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 called 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 book series, Hiccup’s grandfather, Old Wrinkly, plays a role in his life. In the media franchise, Old Wrinkly is nowhere to be seen, and his position is filled by Gobber, who’s like an uncle and second father to Hiccup. However, a portrait of Hiccup’s paternal grandfather is seen in a television series episode. In addition, there’s a reference to Hiccup’s grandparents in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World flashback.

06. The Differences Between Pirates

Now, you’re probably wondering why pirates are on this list. In the books, pirates had a reoccurring role as the character, Alvin the Treacherous, was a pirate, the father of Fishlegs No-name, and a distant relative of the Haddock family.

05. Spitelout

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 always tells his son to upstage Hiccup at every turn.

04. Grump

In the Dreamworks Dragons TV series, Gobber gains his dragon in Grump, a Hotburple. He rescues the dragon from Dragon Hunters after falling in love with him because the creature mirrors him in every aspect.

In the book series, Gobber’s dragon is a Bullrougher named Goliath, who gets killed.

03. Gothi Differences To Old Wrinkly

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, crowning Hiccup as Berk’s new chief, and married him and Astrid a year later.

The character does not exist in the books; Producer Bonnie Arnold has said Gothi is based on Old Wrinkly from the novels.

02. Gobber’s Sexuality

GGobber’ssexuality isn’t stated in the book series as it’s a children’s novel series. However, in the second film, it’s hinted that Gobber is gay and implied in the third film. After the second film’s release, director Dean DuBois confirmed Gobber’s sexuality. 

01. Differences Between Hiccup and Fishlegs’ Friendship

The TV series depicts the growing friendship between Hiccup and Fishlegs. The film doesn’t dive into the friendship much, as the story primarily concerns 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 excited when they went to find Dark Deep and that the 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 them. But, again, thorough, the filmmakers are to be applauded for adding references to the original material within the medium. IIt’snice to see the filmmakers didn’t ruin the book franchise and wanted to keep as much information from the books as possible.

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About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She prides herself as a truth seeker and will do (almost) anything for coffee or Coke No Sugar. Oh! And food!

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