How E.T. Inspired The Ending Of How To Train Your Dragon 3

Toothless and Hiccup in How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
(Image credit: (DreamWorks))

Be warned, this article contains SPOILERS! So if haven’t yet cried over How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, turn back until you have!

Go out to the movies, we’ll get together, we’ll have a few laughs… and then a beautiful ending like How To Train Your Dragon’s hits. The last installment of the animated trilogy centering on a village of Vikings and a boy and his dragon has finally been released in theaters, and it’s a tear-jerker.

When I recently had the chance to speak with the franchise’s writer and director Dean DeBlois at a DreamWorks press visit in Glendale, I asked him about what it was like crafting the last moments of the How To Train Your Dragon films. Here’s what he said:

I think there's a lot of joy in it. We made sure that we gave it the appropriate amount of time for characters to say goodbye to one another and to resolve a few ambitions that I had from the moment we embarked on the idea of the trilogy. I wanted a Viking funeral, I wanted a Viking wedding and I wanted a really powerful emotional goodbye – something that to me would be inspired by E.T. saying goodbye to Elliott, I wanted that kind of emotion.

I’d say the director achieved all of this in the latest installment! The final scenes of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World include some of his wishes fulfilled, including Hiccup and Astrid’s marriage and a touching goodbye reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. Since the franchise explores similar themes of a boy’s unlikely friendship with a creature typically cast out and misunderstood by his society, DeBlois turning to the classic makes a lot of sense.

Toothless helps Hiccup grow and flourish through their friendship, much like Elliott and E.T’s story goes. Originally an awkward misfit, his journey with Toothless gives him the courage and strength to be a part of something and ultimately become the leader of Berk.

Once Toothless started to find his way home in the “Hidden World” and with the Light Fury, Hiccup must say goodbye to his friend and allow them both to fly on their own. Much like E.T’s phone home, which has Elliott saying goodbye to his closest friend, who helped him get out of his shell and fight for something.

DeBlois also pointed to another classic film as an inspiration for the end of How To Train Your Dragon. In his words:

Also, I really wanted the feeling that I got from the end of 'Born Free' when they returned years later and they saw that the dragon that they released into the wild had thrived and she and her mate had cubs and there was a sense of like we did the right thing. It was tough, but they were rewarded with the knowledge that they're safe and they've thrived in the wild.

The most emotional and gratifying scene in The Hidden World is when the timeline jumps forward to a time when a bearded Hiccup, Astrid and their children are on a boat together and they come across Toothless and the Light Fury. The dragon couple has had dragon children of their own.

The two families share a touching moment where they acknowledge each other, happy in their own environments, and get some gratification that everything turned out okay separately, just as the classic story does with the adopted lion cub sent back into the wild.

Dean DeBlois’ inspirations for the end of How To Train Your Dragon are spot on and, in my opinion, made for a satisfying conclusion to the franchise. Let us know what you thought of the ending in the comments below.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.