In How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup is sitting on a rock drawing a picture in the sand with a stick. The picture he draws is clearly of Toothless - the Night Fury dragon. Toothless looks at the image and then drags a huge tree branch over and begins drawing in the sand also.
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I thought that Toothless would try to draw Hiccup, but I can't see his face in here anywhere. Have the animators, movie producers or any of the original books explained what it was that Toothless drew? The point of this segment of the film is to convey that dragons are smarter and possess a wider breadth of emotions than Vikings ever thought... so it would make sense to me that Toothless would draw something awesome. Like an image of the village as seen from the sky or something.

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    I've paused that part of the movie a few times trying to figure out what was drawn, but never could find anything more than scribbles :( hope someone comes back with it's a ... answer
    – AidanO
    Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 11:21
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    I don't have any sources (therefore this is a comment rather than answer), but I always took it to be that he wasn't drawing anything. Toothless is smart, but he's smart like a dog: he figured out that "stick making shapes in the dirt" was a thing, so he imitated it as a form of play with his friend, but he wasn't depicting anything, just like a dog doesn't necessarily understand why you want the morning paper brought to you. He's just playing.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Nov 18, 2014 at 0:37

3 Answers 3


He is drawing (or attempting to draw) Hiccup
This is my son's favourite film and I have literally lost count of the number of times I've seen it (it doesn't hurt that I love it too).

After a gazillion viewings (only a slight exaggeration) I started to see a rudimentary Picasso-esque face in the drawing by Toothless (the dragon).

If you rotate the image above by approx. 30 degrees anti-clockwise, you can see where there are two eyes and a nose in a long face (I've added blue circles for eyes and the blue smile below the nose)

rotated and annotated version of the picture in the original question

Considering that hiccup drew Toothless immediately beforehand, Toothless attempting to draw Hiccup shows staggering intelligence on his behalf.

  • It's the first time he saw an abstract representation of something
  • He recognised that it was a drawing of himself
  • Many animals become confused and/or stressed when they see their own reflections, they are unable to rationalise that they are the cat (or dog) in the mirror, they just see another animal that is not them.

Toothless is intelligent enough to be self-aware, is aware of what he looks like, is able to determine that an abstract line drawing represents him (his self), and is socially aware enough to complement Hiccup by attempting to draw him (with a fair level of accuracy given that it is - I feel safe to assume - his first attempt to draw anything).

In my book that gives Toothless a raw potential intelligence greater than a human in the same circumstances.

NB: While I've referred to Toothless as "he" through out my answer, there is nothing in the film to suggest that Toothless is male

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    From the shots of him flying above the camera I'd say there is evidence against him being a male ;) Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 18:42
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    Of course dragons could be like alligators. (Don't have a link, I don't want to hit a NSFW link trying to find it on my lunch break.) Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 18:42
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    +1 | Spot on. Toothless is showing remarkable intelligence both in recognizing himself and even attempting to replicate the ability given he probably never had cause to try and draw ANYTHING before that moment. The fact dragons haven't conquered every human settlement on the planet signifies a great deal of intelligence AND restraint on the part of dragons overall. Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 21:24
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    This seems like a case of pareidolia at best. You really have to squint to find a face in that scribble. If you look at the original image in the question rather than the one above with blue lines added this is especially clear; the blue lines barely match the actual drawing. Because it fit the storyline, I also assumed that it was an attempt to draw Hiccup, but a completely failed one. People are really good at finding patterns, even when there's not really a pattern to be found. Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 21:57
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    @Jason: Squint, or have it rammed into your brain after countless viewings. Like Jesus in the toast, once you see Hiccup in the scribbles you can't un-see it, pareidolia for the win! Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 6:58

The film's original script indicates that the lines are "haphazard". Toothless isn't attempting to draw any particular thing but is rather attempting to replicate Hiccup's actions (cargo-cult style) without necessarily understanding the meaning behind them.

Toothless walks off. A moment later, he reappears with an entire sapling, drawing lines in the sand. He rushes here and there, making haphazard lines in every direction. Finally, Toothless drops the tree and inspects his work. He seems pleased.

Hiccup stands and takes in the sprawling scribble, amazed by it. He accidentally steps onto one of the lines, eliciting an instant growl from Toothless. He steps on it again. Toothless growls again. Realizing how sensitive he is, Hiccup steps carefully between each line, turning round and round until he unwittingly bumps into Toothless. Toothless snorts. Once again, they're face to face. Hiccup slowly extends his hand. Toothless hesitates. Hiccup turns his head away and closes his eyes. To his amazement, Toothless bridges the gap and presses his muzzle against Hiccup's hand. In a flash, the dragon is gone, leaving Hiccup astounded.

This is confirmed in the How to Train Your Dragon chapter book which is based on the movie. Toothless is, at best, attempting to replicate Hiccup's drawing rather than creating one of his own.

I begin to draw designs in the sand with a twig. The dragon sees this, bites off a tree branch, and mimics my drawing. He creates a huge design in the sand around me. I walk around it and approach the dragon, holding out my hand, and I gently touch him on the nose.


He probably tried to draw Hiccup, but failed.

Drawing recognizable images is not easy and requires some practice. When you do it with your mouth it probably requires a lot of practice. That Toothless understands what Hiccup does and attempts to replicate it already shows much more intelligence than most (perhaps even all) animals. And dragons in the film aren't supposed to be as smart as humans, just smarter than the bloodthirsty animals everyone believed them to be.

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    +1: Yes I think he attempted to draw Hiccup, but I don't think he necessarily failed. I thing it shows that Toothless is a highly intelligent being :) Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 13:54
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    I thing? I think! Commented Nov 30, 2012 at 14:00

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