After realizing that his beloved dragon, Toothless, needs to fly on his own, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) spends the night designing a prosthetic for Toothless’ missing tail part. He paints it, fireproofs it, buckles it in—and off Toothless goes, soaring into the sky.
Hiccup, the boy who has been a dragon rider for six years, stays on the ground, fumbling, unsure what to do next. How do you move on when a part of your life is reaching its end?
How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World (2019) picks up a year after the events of How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014), with Hiccup, Toothless, and the rest of the gang freeing captured dragons and bringing them back to their island, Berk. Despite Berk being an almost perfect human-dragon utopia, the island quickly grows overpopulated and attracts enemies’ attention, including Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), a Night Fury dragon killer. With this, Hiccup and Toothless begin a quest to find the Hidden World, a legend his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), had told him of a safe place for dragons at the edge of the sea. However, the introduction of a Light Fury—a female Night Fury—draws the boy and his dragon apart, bringing into question how long this partnership can last.
With the final installment of its trilogy, the How To Train Your Dragon series ends its nine-year-long journey. Although it lacks the high-scale, “monster-dragon threat” third-act of previous films, the conclusion still soars by doing what this franchise does best: witty humor, heartwarming characters, and beautiful moments that are too good to let go.
If there is something that never disappoints in Hidden World, it’s that it is undeniably funny. When Toothless attempts to court the Light Fury, Hiccup tries to help his clueless best friend by miming what he should do. Toothless then proceeds to copy the most ridiculous dance moves ever known to mankind, making an absolute fool of himself. It’s impossible not to laugh while watching a Night Fury—a feared, powerful, rare dragon—doing the chicken dance around a very confused Light Fury. The Toothless flirting shenanigans alone make watching this movie a must.
Humor also allows for secondary characters to get moments in the spotlight, especially the Viking twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (Justin Rupple). Ruffnut rambles constantly, whether it’s about how all the boys love her or about how the mold on her hair makes her braids look like a dragon’s head. In a hilarious twist where she is captured by Grimmel, she annoys him so much he lets her go. Ruffnut may not be the strongest or wisest warrior, but there is something amusing about the fact that her rants are the one thing that Grimmel, the fearless dragon hunter, cannot bear. Meanwhile, her brother, Tuffnut, keeps trying to give Hiccup advice on becoming “marriage material” for Astrid (America Ferrera). Not only does he give senseless advice at the most inappropriate times, but he does it while proudly wearing a faux beard. The twins are hilarious, but also unique and genuine in their own ways—a constant in the trilogy.
Despite a heartwarming collection of characters and their talented voice-actors, it is Hiccup’s friendship with Toothless that steals the show. If How To Train Your Dragon (2010) and How To Train Your Dragon 2 dealt with whether Hiccup and Toothless could remain friends despite all the hardships, then Hidden World asks if they can live without each other. The film reaches a point where, logically, it makes sense for them to grow apart. To Toothless, the best thing to do is to move on with the Light Fury and become the leader of all dragons. Meanwhile, Hiccup, now Chief of Berk after Stoick’s death, needs to think of what is best for his people as well as for the dragons, and their coexistence always seems to endanger one of the two groups.
However, as Hiccup stares longingly at the sky while Toothless flies solo, it isn’t easy to say what the best answer is. Sometimes what’s best isn’t what we want or the least painful. Sometimes the best thing to do is to let go of a beloved past in order to grow up, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt.
It’s a bittersweet note to end the series on. It lacks the huge battles, dramatic deaths, and final goodbyes that have become hallmarks of finales. Instead, it brings the story back to its heart: the bond between a boy and his dragon. It remembers everything they’ve been through—every battle, every laugh, every quest, every scar—before the pair soars across the sky, never to be seen again.
“There were dragons when I was a boy,” Hiccup says in one of his final moments as narrator. Many boys and girls who have grown up with the series now, like Hiccup, say goodbye to Berk’s mythical creatures. It’s heartbreaking, but, as Hiccup and Toothless fly one last time, there is a comfort in knowing that goodbyes aren’t forever. The How To Train Your Dragon movies may have reached their conclusion, but they can always be rewatched. Berk will always be out there, waiting for the fans who have grown to love it.
Franchises may end, but their stories live on—and so do the dragons.