A dragon has appeared on the streets of New York. At the moment, it's bewildered, disoriented, and wondering what the heck happened. It hasn't done much aside from unintentional property damage here and there so far, but that could change. How would people respond?


  • The main body is roughly twice the size of a minivan, with a serpentine neck of half that length and a tail 2/3rds the length of the body but slimmer. It has 4 legs with sharp claws that can slice through concrete and steel with relative ease, and wings that allow flight despite the fact that they are not large enough to do so according to conventional physics.
  • When agitated, stressed, or just in the mood to do it, the dragon can breathe out a jet of a gaseous substance that ignites on contact with air; basically, fire breath achieved via the same mechanism as a blowtorch. Note that this doesn't harm the dragon when it does this.
  • The dragon is more intelligent than dolphins and apes, and may even be sentient, though so far it has neither spoken in any recognizable human language nor shown evidence that it understands any language. It's unfamiliar with human technology and structures though. If introduced to something new, it will initially react with curiosity: what happens next depends on how the 'something' in question reacts back.
  • It is very nimble and agile despite its immense size; it can climb around the cityscape with ease, and can fly in it, though it finds flying challenging in the urban environment.
  • The dragon's hide is scaly and has durability on par with the highest-quality steel. It's about 2/3rds of an inch thick.
  • The dragon, like all things, needs to rest at some point. It needs about 6 hours of sleep every 18 hours.

Note- The humans are as confused and bewildered as the dragon at this point, and are unfamiliar with its characteristics until they see them in action. Their response is going to follow the following parameters;

  1. Minimizing civilian casualties and property damage.

  2. Dealing with the dragon in a reasonable amount of time. Death of the dragon is not completely forbidden but will result in considerable controversy from Animal Rights activists and scientists who have noticed it might have been sentient.

  3. Obeying the chain of command. (Proper procedure for calling Animal Control, SWAT, national guard, etc.)

  4. Preventing mass panic, and the general stupidity (such as a citizen encountering the thing wandering onto its property and attempting to defend his property with a rifle, likely aggravating the dragon and worsening the situation) often associated with such a panic.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It looks like your world is built and you're asking how people in this world will respond to an event. Such questions are too story based to be a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 15:20
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ You might be better off to propose a reaction and ask if it is feasible, and add a reality-check tag. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ Where did this dragon originate from ? Is that known ? Dragons are supposed to listen and speak, maybe you just need a native speaker (there's a lot of languages in NYC) $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 19:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I’ve got to agree with @sphennings et all, this is “throw two things in a blender and ask the Internet what comes out.” There literally is no story here. Where did the dragon come from? What year is it? How did it arrive? Who sent it? It’s not the thing this site is intended for, sorry. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 1:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is in the VTR queue, but it's not yet ready. "How would people respond?" questions are regularly closed as Too Story-Based because any reaction can occur depending on who, when, what, where, and how. How would a baby react? A druggie? A black politician? An oriental storekeeper? A housewife? A teen girl? No, the other teen girl... A policeman? A bureaucrat? A factory worker? A 90-year-old? There is no global truth that isn't so broad it's meaningless (and anything with detail would be writing your story for you, which is against the rules here). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 2:26

4 Answers 4


Stay polite

Wild dragon

So you've got a wild dragon!

"The dragon is more intelligent than dolphins and apes, and may even be sentient, though so far it has neither spoken in any recognizable human language nor shown evidence that it understands any language"

Feed it somewhere in Central Park, it will stay put

If it did not eat or attack people, it's probably just lost, or looking for prey. Sheep, cows, goats, pigs, you name it.

To win the dragon's trust, to calm it down and to limit the damages, you may consider to feed it. The dragon will take it as a friendly gesture and return to the same place.


One nice side-effect: a permanent dragon attraction in Central Park will bring in thousands of extra tourists, who want to see it.

Find its language

It does not know English language, did it come from overseas? try to find a language expert that can determine its language, it must be a human language. Many dragons are from Moldavia. You'll find plenty of New Yorkers who can speak Moldavian.

Non-verbal ways

I see three non-verbal options you could try..

Option 1. Easiest way: show this to the dragon and see what happens..

enter image description here

Option 2. Approach the dragon with gifts eg gold. Then beg it to go, making crying sounds and pointing your arm in the appropriate direction.

Option 3. Tell the dragon there is an ichneumon in town, show this picture



Option 4. If it does not believe you, call me. I'm an expert, the Jane Goodall of wild dragons.



  • the dragon did not have the intention to cause any damage
  • is not sentient and cannot speak
  • it did some damage
  • people had never seen such a creature before

People would feel threatened. Police would consider it a threat to the population and would probably try to kill it. They may even call the military for help depending on how strong and dangerous your dragon is or would appear to be.


Have you ever seen America's Funniest Home Videos show a video with a small cute critter like a mouse, squirrel, bird, or bat, get in a house or office and some people panic like it is a lion or a tiger?

Some years ago I was working in our office in a barn and heard a sound like screaming. My sister (who is quite used to wildlife including deer and coyotes), went down the street to investigate. When she returned, she said with some scorn that she found a teenage girl standing on a picnic table and screaming because she saw a mole. A mole!

And of course sometimes grown men panic at the sight of tiny little critters on America's Funniest Home Videos, not just women. A woman might have 100 times the size of a critter that panics her, and a man might have 150 or 200 times the size, but be just as scared.

So imagine what would happen if such an animal phobic person meets a loose lion or tiger or bear, or a wolf, or a hostile dog, something actually large enough to be dangerous. If they are lucky they might freeze with fright.

But if they run, they might trigger a predatory response from the predator, since predators have instincts to chase animals that run away from them and thus show that they are prey. And of course most large animals, both predators and prey, can run faster than humans for short bursts of speed. Humans who are in good shape can run for many hours, and outrun the prey animals they used to chase down, but most large animals can run much faster than humans for short bursts of speed and are likely to catch any human if they are a relatively short distance away when the chase begins.

That's why there is a joke that someone tells their slower companion they will run away as fast as they can if they meet a bear. The companion tells them they can't outrun a bear, and they reply they only have to outrun the companion.

So if some of the people who see a dragon magically materialize on a city street run away, it might trigger a chase response from the dragon if it is carnivorous.

Humans who don't run away might try to chase the dragon away, with potentially disastrous results. On June 8, 2011, some young elephants entered the city of Mysore, India. Crowds tried to chase the elephants out, and they got excited, and one man was killed. It is always safer if large and powerful animals are calm and placid, so staying calm yourself is necessary when encountering them.

So there seeems to be a fairly high probability that some of the people who notice the dragon will react badly, causing an unnecessary conflict. If the dragon appears at night in a non residential section, there should only be a few late workers, night watchmen, police, etc. around, and possibly they will react in a more sensible manner, calling higher authorities, who might react in a more sensible manner, avoiding trouble.

Your statement that:

The dragon is more intelligent than dolphins and apes, and may even be sentient, though so far it has neither spoken in any recognizable human language nor shown evidence that it understands any language.

has some problems.

Do you think that Homo sapiens has the lowest possible intelligence range for a species of intelligent beings and people, or a middle rank intelligence range, or the highest possible intelligent range of any intelligence species? If you don't believe that the intelligence range of Homo sapiens is at the lowest possible level to be considered to be people, you will have to consider the possibility that animals with lower intelligence ranges than Homo sapiens are also people.

And it is quite possible that some or all species of cetaceans, great apes, and proboscieans have intelligence ranges which overlap considerably with that of Homo sapiens, and even possible that some species of them might have higher intellence ranges than Homo sapiens.

If it is ever proved that some or all cetaceans, great apes, and proboscieans have intelligences high enough to be considered sentient, your statement that the dragon:

is more intelligent than dolphins and apes, and may even be sentient

Will be proved to be an oxymoron, since a being more intelligent than some sentient beings will be sentient instead of being merely "possibly sentient".


Everyone move slowly into the subway

If people started screaming and running, the dragon will likely burn several people very badly as its fight or flight instinct is triggered. If people move slowly to the subway, the turnstile should block the dragon. Even if the first few people are dragon-kabobed, people on the street would quickly learn move slowly into tiny alleyways or the subway where the dragon won't fit.

Good thing New York is always under construction

Especially in Manhatten, there is scaffolding across a good portion of the city. It's sized for humans, your dragon would likely get stuck in it. Good luck flying around with metal pipe stuck around your head.

Nicest Human Response

Use a police car with lights and sirens to show the dragon where to go. Hopefully, the light and noise will make the dragon follow it to the water. Make sure there are no over lights or noises nearby. If it's not intelligent it'll hopefully see the flashing lights it's instincts will tell it to follow.

If it is intelligent it'll have some idea that light + noise = pay attention to me, and as long as it's not being injured, it'll play along.

Non-lethal response

As several protest videos show water pressure fore a fire hydrant can send a person flying. Water is also used commercially to cut steel. A water jet would likely be able to redirect the dragon, and could likely hurt it given the right circumstances.

Much like modern-day stand-offs, police could use tear gas to block certain pathways and guide the dragon away from people and towards the water. I doubt the dragon will be doing much flying as skyscrapers = unpredictable and strong winds. It would learn quickly to walk.

Throw in a tasty goat on a pier and you can likely lure the dragon away.

Finally - the whole city would go dark. They'd want the dragon to skip Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn and head to somewhere remote. No lights = no attention.

This would likely be the first response as the police wouldn't have heavy artillery, and this would minimize damage to the city.

Big Guns

RPGs would likely manage to do some damage to the dragon no matter what. Even better they are mobile enough to pop up out of basements and subways and then get out of the way before the dragon could attack.

In a place like New York City, humans are better off using people-sized things to their advantage. Don't fight the dragon on size, but on power.

I think the dragon would get the message to get outta the city pretty fast


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .