How to Start a Dragon Academy is the first episode of the first season, Dragons: Riders of Berk, of the How to Train Your Dragon TV Series, DreamWorks Dragons: The Series. It was shown as a sneak peak on August 7, 2012, along with the second episode Viking for Hire.
The Vikings and dragons on Berk may not fight anymore, but the dragons that live there aren't trained to live in human civilization. Hiccup tells his dad, Stoick he is the best person to solve this problem. As a solution, he starts the Berk Dragon Training Academy to train and learn more about dragons.
- Mulch, Bucket, and Mildew are introduced
- The killing arena is transformed into the Dragon Training Academy
PlotA year has passed since Hiccup and Toothless defeated the Red Death, with Vikings and dragons now co-existing on the island of Berk. Hiccup and the Riders engage in a self-held best trick competition, to showcase their newfound talents riding with their reptilian friends, with the most competition occuring between Hiccup and Astrid, albeit in a friendly way. Though Astrid's trick with Stormfly is impressive (the others just about managing their own tricks), Hiccup and Toothless' trick steals the show, putting them clean ahead of the others. Afterward, Hiccup heads back to the village and sees Berk seemingly 'under attack' by the dragons' natural behavior and the Vikings have a hard time continuing about their daily lives. Although most are willing to co-exist with the dragons despite the inconveniences faced, there are those who will never accept them, as Hiccup states, and they will do anything to drive the dragons off Berk for good.
Later at night outside town, an old grumpy Viking named Mildew is awakened when his house rattles and shakes violently. As he goes outside, he discovers a dragon caused the disturbance by sitting atop his house, but that's not the worst part. He discovers that a herd of Gronckles has devoured his entire cabbage field. Mildew grows angry, believing that the dragons have gone too far and sets off for the heart of the village with his sheep, Fungus.
The next morning, Stoick is wrapped up in organizing Berk's food supplies, but Mildew interrupts (as quipped by Gobber, with his "complaint of the day"). Mildew protests that the dragons are not fit to live among "civilized men", to which Gobber replies that Mildew isn't, referencing his homestead being built outside of town. Mildew is undeterred however, and proceeds to rally the villagers in his favour, succeeding as they all join his protest. Though Gobber continues to rib Mildew, the Vikings have been stirred up, and the old man demands that the dragons be caged before any further damage can be done, with the crowd in support of his suggestions. Hiccup, present throughout the conversation, tries to justify the dragons' behavior, but Stoick subtly pauses Hiccup and tells Mildew that if there's a problem, he will deal with it. Mildew spitefully tells him that there is a problem, and that he speaks for everyone when he says that something better be done about it soon. The congregation gathers around after he leaves and continues to protest to Stoick, Gobber and Hiccup.
At Stoick's homestead, he and Gobber discuss various means of handling the dragon problem, with Gobber providing mildly helpful input, his chief eventually reaching his wits' end and knocking over a chair in his frustration. Hiccup is quick to step in and suggest that he deal with the problem himself. Though the two men are skeptical, he manages to talk his dad into it, and Stoick agrees to let him start the next day.
The next day, Hiccup commences his attempt of controlling the dragons, starting with a wild Nadder that tries to snap up a lady's tray of bread. Hiccup goes in and tries to discipline and train the dragon. It goes well for a brief moment, before some chickens a Gronckle startles distract the Nadder, causing more trouble. Things go from bad to worse when Hiccup spots another Nadder and a Monstrous Nightmare having a scrap, with some sheep caught in the fray, one of which catches alight and makes a run for it in panic. Hiccup gives chase so as to put out the blaze while ordering Toothless to stop the fight. As the Night Fury proceeds to do so, Hiccup runs further into the plaza and sees he isn't the only one having a hard time as the villagers are being overrun by the dragons' wild behavior. The other Riders watch overhead from a catapult post, with Snotlout wondering what he's doing, and the Twins surmising that Hiccup is helping the dragons break stuff. Hiccup is unable to catch the flaming sheep and loses the bucket of water, haplessly tumbling and sliding down a slope in the process. Astrid remarks that he could really use their help, with Ruffnut and Tuffnut offering little support of the notion. Hiccup finally manages to douse the sheep on fire in water. However, it's three o'clock and the time of the day the dragons "relieve themselves". Unable to hide from the poop shower in time, he gets hit directly in the face.
Hours later at home, Hiccup has failed to keep order in the town, and every part of his body hurts. He muses to Toothless about how even his prosthetic leg feels like it hurts. Astrid visits and greets him, asking how his day was. Hiccup tries to appear smooth and unfazed, but Astrid calls him on it, saying that they saw him out there. Hiccup gives up and crashes on his bed, stating that he'd be seeing flaming sheep in his sleep for the next month.
Stoick arrives, demanding answers, exclaiming that the plaza looks like a warzone. Hiccup quickly tells his dad that it's just Phase One of his 'master plan' and that it's very complex. Stoick, though slightly skeptical, tells Hiccup that said plan better be real, because Mildew stirred up the entire village, and if he is unable to find a fix to their problems soon, the people will be calling for the dragons' heads. After he leaves, Hiccup assures Toothless that his head isn't going anywhere. Astrid reminds Hiccup that there are "like a bazillion dragons" and only one of him, stating that she hopes Hiccup actually does have a plan.
The next morning, Hiccup gathers the other teens and explains that his plan is to train dragons inside the abandoned training arena where they used to kill the former pests. Astrid points out that the dragons are a little uneasy, and Fishlegs explains that it's because they're sensitive, especially Meatlug as she lost a cousin there. Astrid then remarks that it's amazing that Stoick just gave the arena to them, until Hiccup reveals that he didn't inform his father about it, or ask for permission to use it, telling her that they should avoid talking about it. Hiccup then explains to the others the problem; dragons can't live in their world without destroying it, and they need human help. The twins misunderstand, assuming Hiccup wants them to help dragons destroy stuff. As they start planning out how to go about this, Hiccup sternly reminds everyone that Mildew wants their dragons caged, which isn't something he's okay with and they shouldn't be either. The twins heed the gravity of his tone, and Tuffnut offers their apology (albeit by pinning it on Ruffnut). Hiccup then proceeds to address the next issue; the dragons eat everything in sight. He demonstrates an easy fix to everyone using Toothless as an example whilst explaining that when a dragon grabs something it's not supposed to have, it will let go of it if you give the beast a little scratch under the chin.
Snotlout then interrupts and tells Hiccup that he and Hookfang do things a little differently; he attempts to demonstrate his mastery of method by throwing the bread to Hookfang, who catches it, before walking up harshly yelling at him to drop it. Hookfang gets annoyed and drops it, but grabs his rider in his mouth instead, much to the amusement of Astrid and the twins. Hiccup tells everyone that they've a lot of work to do, but is confident that they can keep the dragons under control. The others all oblige him, while Snotlout hopefully asks if anyone can scratch Hookfang under the chin to get him to let go.
They head into the plaza but find it suspiciously empty and quiet. It seems the problem has been taken care of, but a huge explosion occurs a few blocks away and the teens head toward it, only to discover that their own dragons had joined in with the others in raiding the town's food storage, having consumed everything. Mildew takes the opportunity to berate Stoick for not listening to him, questioning his decision to leave a "bunch of teenagers in charge", and claiming that caging the dragons is too good for the beasts. Hiccup tries to convince his father that they were on the verge of a breakthrough, but Stoick tells Hiccup that he can't be trusted to control all the dragons if he couldn't even control his own, whilst gesturing to Toothless, who also assisted in the raid on the food storage. Stoick orders Bucket and Mulch to man the boats and catch more fish, but Mulch states that it's too late, recounting that it took them six months to catch all the fish they'd lost, and that the freeze would be coming soon. Stoick however wants to hear none of it, saying that they need to at least try. Mulch apologizes, and pins it on the hapless Bucket, telling him not to be so negative. Hiccup's pleas for another chance to fix the situation are rebuffed, as Stoick now has to figure out how to feed his village as soon as possible. He orders Hiccup to have the dragons caged, but Mildew ups the stakes by demanding that they be sent away permanently, with the villagers once again joining in his protest. Stoick is left with no choice but to give in to Mildew and the others, ordering Hiccup to cage the dragons in the night and have them off the island by morning.
Later in the evening, the Riders dine together at the Great Hall, upset that their dragons are going to be sent away. They recall their good moments with them, before Astrid leads them away to get the caging done with. Hiccup is still relucant, desperate to not have to let go of Toothless, his best friend. Mildew, showing up like a bad penny, rather gleefully says his goodbyes to Toothless, and ribs Hiccup, saying that his mistake was believing dragons could be trained. He adds that dragons will do what they do because it is in their nature, and nature always wins. Observing Toothless re-ignite a fireplace that gets put out when the Hall's door is opened, and a Viking expressing her thanks to the dragon, Hiccup is suddenly inspired by something Mildew said. He rushes to the arena where the Riders are saying their goodbyes and apologies.
Hiccup swoops in on Toothless and interrupts the lockdown procedure, telling the others that they won't be locking up their dragons. Astrid excitedly asks if Hiccup changed Stoick's mind, before suspiciously asking if they're going behind his back again. Hiccup lightly responds that it's one of the two and tells them that dragons are going to do what they're going to do because its their nature, and all they need to do is learn how to use it.
The next morning, Bucket and Mulch are having no luck trapping any fish in their nets. Hiccup orders Snotlout to have Hookfang dive underwater and scare the fish into the nets, which he does. Bucket and Mulch quickly grab the overfilled nets and happily thank them. Meanwhile, Hiccup, Astrid and Fishlegs head for Mildew's cabbage field, using Stormfly's tail spines to dig up the field, with Hiccup seeding the ploughed land by flying over it with Toothless and a basket of seeds, before Fishlegs leads a flock of dragons with Meatlug and has all of them relieve themselves on the field, as fertilizer. Hiccup cheerfully tells Mildew to smile as they've just saved him three months of work. Next, the twins use Barf and Belch to scare a herd of boars and yaks back into their town shed from the forest, with Hiccup and Toothless redirecting them as necessary, allowing Gobber to lock them up as part of Berk's food supplies. The Riders are surprised it worked, and Astrid asks how Hiccup knew it would. He replies that they'd do what dragons do, and they simply needed to learn how to work with them, and not against them. He says that they should be thanking Mildew, who at that very moment walks up with Stoick, annoyed that the dragons aren't caged, not in the least bit grateful for what was done for his field. Stoick is seemingly displeased that the kids had not what he asked for and gathers them at the arena. Gobber and Stoick slowly and rather menacingly walk up to the Riders, much to their trepidation, as they think they're in trouble and are going to be sent to jail. Stoick tells them that they disobeyed his orders, and there would be consequences for it. Astrid reiterates her previous warnings to Hiccup, who tries to convince his father that he should be the only one punished, as the others were only following his lead. Stoick however, states that they were all part of it and they all disobeyed his orders. Mildew looks on from the spectator ring with the other Vikings, gleefully awaiting Stoick's penalizing of the teens. Stoick strolls back and forth before them, stating that they took over the arena without asking him, and released the dragons against his orders, as the kids look on in even greater worry. Stoick says that things are going to change around there, and is about to continue when Gobber excitedly interrupts and tells them that they are getting their own Dragon Training Academy, much to Stoick's chagrin, as he wanted to be the one to tell them. Gobber apologizes and encourages him to proceed, but Stoick complains that he's already told most of it. Gobber then 'helpfully' suggests telling Hiccup how proud he is of him, drawing another sharp complaint from Stoick, who then awkwardly affirms what Gobber just said, adding that they've all done him proud.
Stoick then officially gifts them the dragon training arena, and releases their dragons from captivity. An annoyed Mildew walks away in a huff, vowing to "get those dragons yet". Stoick tells Hiccup that now, he just has to train the dragons, and his son replies that it won't be a problem as he has Toothless, adding that he also has his friends, the Riders, after Astrid makes him take note.
Later that night, Hiccup celebrates by drawing the riders and their dragons together as a souvenir of that fine moment, while the teens enjoy the company of their dragons in their daily lives once more, using them to help around on Berk with activities such as gathering and stockpiling food supplies. Later on, Snotlout and Fishlegs, riding Hookfang and Meatlug respectively, work together to hang their academy's sign, while Astrid remarks that she likes the name chosen for it, the "Berk Dragon Academy" and punches Hiccup in the arm playfully as they smile at each other.
- "Dragons can't change who they are. But who would want them to? Dragons are powerful, amazing creatures. And as long as it takes me, I am going to learn everything that is to know about them. Wouldn't you?"
- Jay Baruchel as Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III
- America Ferrera as Astrid Hofferson
- Nolan North as Stoick the Vast
- Chris Edgerly as Gobber the Belch
- Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs Ingerman
- Julie Marcus as Ruffnut Thorston
- T.J. Miller as Tuffnut Thorston
- Zack Pearlman as Snotlout Jorgenson
- Tim Conway as Mulch
- Thomas F. Wilson as Bucket
- Stephen Root as Mildew
- This episode introduces the recurring villain, Mildew, a grumpy complaining Berk cabbage farmer who may have been a dragon killer before, but because of the peace with the dragons, his opposition of them is no longer supported. Now he has made it his mission in life to evict or kill the dragons who have found sanctuary on Berk.
- The fact that the other villagers built Mildew's house outside the village implies that the others don't like him a lot. Also the way Gobber says, "Ah. Here's Mildew with the complaint of the day!" to Stoick implies that even the kind and friendly Gobber isn't too fond of Mildew.
- It's indicated that every day at 3:00 pm, wild dragons fly over Berk and drop their biological waste on the village.
- This is the first time Hookfang's habit of disobeying his rider Snotlout is showcased. Throughout the rest of the series, Hookfang ignoring and disobeying Snotlout every time the Rider tries to assert dominance, becomes one of its running gag.
- This episode's clear-cut lesson in the Berk Dragon Academy; How do you get a dragon to drop something it's not supposed to have.
- The roles of the Dragon Rider teens in the Berk Dragon Academy are established as follows:
- Hiccup is the main dragon teacher and the head of the Berk Dragon Academy. While his specialty is Strike Class dragons specialist, he is also very capable of handling the other dragon species.
- Astrid acts as Hiccup's right hand woman (and probably also his enforcer if it's going to be needed, as it likely will be). Besides being Hiccup's right hand woman, she is also the Sharp Class dragons specialist of Berk Dragon Academy.
- Fishlegs is the logmaster of the Book of Dragons. He is also the Boulder Class dragons specialist of the Berk Dragon Academy.
- Snotlout is the closest one in the Berk Dragon Academy to being a Stoker Class dragons specialist.
- Ruffnut and Tuffnut are more or less the specialists of the Fear Class dragons of the Berk Dragon Academy.