Dragons are the unavoidable threat of Skyrim, the one enemy that every Dragonborn must prove they're able to defeat in order to save Skyrim from Alduin's plans. There are several different types of dragons, some named and some generic. Some are not even hostile towards the Dragonborn themselves unless they're given a reason to attack. However, one thing remains true: they are daunting, powerful creatures that require special strategies to defeat, especially as the player levels up through their journey.
So, if you're ready to whip out your sword and shield or charge your longbow, let's take a look at all the dragons of Skyrim, from weakest to the most powerful... and undoubtedly the scariest.
23 Brown Dragon
At the beginning of the game the first kind of dragon you'll be dealing with is the simple Brown Dragon. Since these are your first dragons they might feel challenging at first, but they shouldn't give you too much trouble in the long run. Most dragons have a predictable pattern of movement and aggression, which make Brown Dragons particularly easy to deal with. Keep in mind, however, that some are Frost and some are Fire types, which will make them resistant to that specific element.
When the Dragonborn reaches Whiterun and speaks with the Jarl for the first time, they'll overhead a conversation about something strange going on at the Western Watchtower. Once there, you'll encounter your very first dragon, called Mirmulnir. It's this creature that reveals the fact that the player is essentially Dragonborn, and it's also the first Dragon Soul you'll absorb in Skyrim. With the help of the guards, however, he won't be too much of a problem to deal with.
One of the most controversial characters in Skyrim, wise and old Paarthurnax once aided Alduin in his cause during the Merethic Era against humans. However, he's a reformed dragon and has since rejected Alduin, instead deciding to help the Dragonborn. At one point in the main quest you're given a choice to either spare him or kill him, and it's up to each player to determine where they stand. Should you challenge him, however, he's no stronger than a Brown Dragon despite his infinite wisdom.
20 Skeletal Dragon
When it comes to dramatic scenes in Skyrim, we've all probably felt that intense internal panic upon reaching the end of the Labyrinthian and seeing this massive skeletal dragon burst from the ground, assisted by his boneman friends.
Despite how frightening his entrance is and how unexpected it might be, he's really not that tough of an enemy to deal with, so long as the Dragonborn focuses on him and ignores his loyal skeleton friends who are mere annoyances.
19 Kruziikrel And Relonikiv
If you have the Dragonborn DLC, chances are you'll be encountering these two at the end of the quest "At The Summit Of Apocrypha". Unfortunately, their purpose is to only fuel Miraak with souls through the boss battle that ensues. The Dragonborn can even easily use shouts to bend these two to his will, and if wanted they can also be fought against, although there isn't exactly a point to it when the battle against Miraak is already so daunting.
Also encountered in the Dragonborn DLC during the quest "At The Summit Of Apocrypha," he's one of the dragons that serves Miraak and is always seen carrying him. The Dragonborn isn't forced to fight him, and in fact it's recommended to instead tame him with Bend Will rather than go head on against him. This makes him an easy dragon to deal with despite how high level he is and what he can do once in a battle.
The Dragonborn will most likely encounter Nahagliiv quite early on in the game, making him one of the easier dragons to deal with. If you approach Rorikstead, you'll discover a burial mound not too far from the village. If Nahagliiv has already been resurrected, he'll usually be circling around the area and Rorikstead. Since Nahagliiv scales according to the player's level and he's close to most early game locations, he shouldn't pose too much of an issue. Occasionally you might even see him engaged in a battle against local Forsworn.
Legends say that Sahloknir was once slain by Jorg Helmbolg, a Nord hero that lived during the First Era. Since then he was buried in Kynesgrove, which is where the Dragonborn will travel to with Delphine who insists that they prove they are truly the Dragonborn by defeating Sahloknir. This quest is pretty early on in the game, which means that Sahloknir won't be too hard to deal with and you'll also have Delphine help you with the battle.
15 Blood Dragon
Once you've graduated from Brown Dragons and leveled up to 20, you'll start seeing these green dragons chasing you around Skyrim. Blood Dragons are more persistent than their brown counterparts, going as far as following you into cities until they get to you. They're a little bit sturdier and tougher than their brown versions and are divided into Frost and Fire types. By this time the player should have enough abilities and experience to properly deal with dragons, so they only pose a slightly greater challenge.
Vuljotnaak is one of the dragons that you'll witness getting resurrected by Alduin as you adventure through Skyrim. His burial ground is located nearby Fort Sungard and Broken Fang Cave, and although he is a named dragon he is somewhat easy to defeat.
You'll only see him resurrected round Act II of the main quest line, and he'll be scaled to the Dragonborn's level, so depending on how early you progress to this point he may or may not be high level.
Durnehviir is a bit of a special case, because he's undead. A long time ago he practiced the art of necromancy, a rather unlikely choice for a dragon. It was this interest that led him to seek out the Ideal Masters, with whom he struck a deal. If Durnehviir would guard the Soul Cairn and Valerica until her death, he would have access to the undead realm and be able to summon an army of living dead. Unfortunately, Valerica turned out to be a vampire, which essentially condemned Durnehviir to an eternity of servitude. During his battle, he will summon skeleton men to his aid.
12 Frost Dragon
Introduced around level 30, Frost Dragons are an ice version of regular dragons and their bluish scales are a tell-tale sign of this. In order to defeat them it's advised to not use any frost type spells, but instead go for fire spells which they're weak to.
If your armor rating isn't the best or you have light armor instead of heavy armor, it's best to take down these beasts with a bow or spells from afar, since they're easily able to bite through armor with significant damage.
Once you're sent on a mad quest to go and find the Elder Scroll, you'll come across Viinturuth if you happen to be around Anga's Mill. Resurrected yet again by Alduin, he's a particularly aggressive dragon and can use either frost or fire, depending on your level. His toughness will also depend on how high level the Dragonborn is, but at this point of the main quest it's highly likely that you'll already have several levels and dragon fights under your belt.
Odahviing is one of the most important dragons in the main quest, because it's thanks to him that the Dragonborn is able to discover the location of Alduin. Buried near Riften, the Dragonborn must lure Odahviing out into the skies and then use the Dragonrend Shout to force him down to the ground in Whiterun. Once captured by the guards, he'll be interrogated and join forces with the Dragonborn, who will eventually be able to mount him. After this, Odahviing will regularly come to the Dragonborn's aid if the Call Dragon Shout is used to summon him. He makes a fine and strong ally, without a single doubt.
9 Elder Dragon
Around level 40 these cunning dragons will begin to appear, and are significantly harder to defeat than the regular Frost or Fire dragons. Elder Dragons are able to harness both elements at the same time, making them particularly hard to counter with spells. Moreover, engaging in close combat without proper armor can really put the player at risk of death. The best strategy is to utilize Dragonrend to force these beasts down to the ground and then use any ranged attacks you might have available, preferably a good bow and strong arrows.
Alduin, the World Eater and believed by some to be Akatosh himself, or at least his offspring, is the Dragonborn's main enemy through the primary quest line in Skyrim. A long time ago Alduin was a ruler of humans, who either forced them to worship him or enslaved them brutally. It wasn't until Paarthurnax betrayed his rule and taught the way of the voice to humans that his rule came to an end when an Elder Scroll was used to send him forward in time. It is then the Dragonborn's task to defeat him again in the current day, a mission which can be highly underwhelming when he's finally encountered in Sovngarde and defeated with ease due to the poor scaling of his levels.
7 Ancient Dragon
These are the hardest dragons encountered in the base game of Skyrim, seen especially after reaching level 50. They look very similar to Elder Dragons, but will have much more sustain and damage at their disposal, making them the most daunting enemy to meet in the wild. Moreover, as with Elder Dragons, they're able to use both elemental powers to their advantage. Players should approach them with caution and always take close combat fights only if they have proper armor.
Included in the Dragonborn DLC, by the time the player comes in contact with Krosulhah it's highly likely that they will have finished the main quest and reached level 50, making this dragon a somewhat tough enemy.
It definitely doesn't help that he's met somewhat suddenly right outside Nchardak after the completion of a quest, during a time when the player is most likely not expecting to engage in a fight with a dragon.
5 Serpentine Dragon
Available in Dragonborn DLC, these snake-like dragons with dark grey scales can be found on the island of Solstheim once the player has reached level 50. They don't possess any special abilities that would make them different from the other dragons already encountered so far, however they will be significantly stronger, with a larger health pool. By this point, you'll definitely know how dragons move and what their attack pattern is, so if you have the strength and sustain you'll be able to defeat these scary beasts.
4 Revered Dragon
Once you have Dawnguard installed and your character has reached level 62, you'll come across very strange and somewhat peculiar-looking orange dragons. These Revered Dragons look significantly different from any other types, with larger eyes and a bird-like mouth without any teeth. Don't be fooled, however, because these beasts are able to use a special Drain Vitality skill that will literally suck the life force out of the Dragonborn. They're also able to dive into a frozen lake and resurface after a while, making them very hard to deal with in combat.
Although Vulthuryol is usually encountered only at level 50, the reason why we think he's such a hard one to deal with is because he appears in undoubtedly one of the most (if not the most) challenging areas of all of Skyrim: Blackreach. If this area doesn't bother or scare you at all, you're probably a seasoned player at this point, or need to scale your difficulty. Dealing with this tough beast while in near total darkness surrounded by Falmer, Dwemer creatures and even the occasional Dwarven Centurion and giant is an absolute nightmare.
2 Naaslaarum And Voslaarum
Picture this: Revered Dragon, but there's two of them and they both burst out of an icy lake to fight you at the same time. If that doesn't sound terrifying to you with just how much sustain and damage these guys are able to do, then we don't know what would. Much like regular Revered Dragons they're able to dive underwater and then come back out, just to mess with your aim and your strategy. A real headache, multiplied by two.
1 Legendary Dragon
The most terrifying and powerful dragon there is, is only introduced once you reach level 78 and if you happen to have the Dawnguard DLC. These majestic beasts are purple and slightly red in tone, with two big horns protruding from their head. The good thing is, they're not much different in abilities from the Revered Dragons or any of other other previous dragons and will still behave in a similar way. However, the damage they do is truly destructive and their health pool will be difficult to put a dent into. Only for skilled and experienced adventurers!