The Dragon Prince Creators On The Season 4 Time Jump, Repentant Villains, And More [Exclusive Interview]

While everyone was fighting over which live-action fantasy show is the best — the one with the rings and the steamy hot sexual tension, or the one with the incest and the dragons that are basically nuclear weapons — the conversations tended to forget that there is another fantasy epic coming out this fall, one with elves and dragons and political scheming of its own.

That's right: Now that the first season of both "House of the Dragon" and "Rings of Power" are over, it's time for the animated series "The Dragon Prince" to shine. A sort of spiritual successor to "Avatar: The Last Airbender" (in craft and tone more than story), "The Dragon Prince" hasn't reached the level of popularity of that Nickelodeon show, but is just as compelling. The show has a vast world that feels lived-in, with a deep and complex mythology, phenomenal production designs, and fascinating characters.

Season 3 closed a big chapter in the story, essentially finishing this show's take on the traditional hero's quest by showing our heroes delivering the titular dragon prince to his mother, defeating the bad guy, and preventing an all-out war between elves and humans. Now that "The Dragon Prince" is finally coming back after years away, the story picks up years after the events of last season, and it is quickly apparent that peace is not everlasting.

Ahead of the release of season 4 of "The Dragon Prince," /Film talked to co-creators Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond about the return of the show and what fans can expect going forward.

A brave new world

The first thing you'll note about the return of "The Dragon Prince" is that the world of Xadia is a very different place, and our characters look rather different. According to Aaron Ehasz, the time jump was necessary to give the story the "epic scale" that the writers envisioned from the beginning. They couldn't tell a story that took place over a handful of weeks, so instead, "the way of giving the whole story an epic scale and giving the characters a chance to grow and change in a sped-up way" was introducing a time jump.

When we see the main characters again, we quickly get a sense that the events of the last three seasons have impacted them and set them on different paths than they would have been on otherwise. They have overcome significant challenges, while new problems are rising. For Callum, the time jump means he is now fully capable of using magic, and he's taken the role of High Mage of Katolis, giving him a position of authority in the new version of the kingdom. He still clashes with Soren, who is proudly serving as a Crownguard to King Ezran, and seems to be in everyone's good graces after turning against his father and defending Ezran last season.

A lot has changed, from characters we knew to brand new characters becoming important, but don't expect "The Dragon Prince" to fill in the gaps of the two years it skipped. Co-creator Justin Richmond told /Film that any flashback to that time would "depend on the character." 

"We do some flashbacks, although not many taking place during those two years. I think just a couple," he teased, saying that most characters we meet will talk about events that happened before and fill in some gaps, but the story will mostly just focus on the now.

It's not easy being king

The character who experiences arguably the biggest change is Ezran. The boy king has now fully accepted his duties, ruling Katolis in peace time and taking his father's realm to new and more advanced places by seeking peace with the elves and dragons of Xadia.

"What you guys haven't seen yet is that Katolis no longer has farms or are raising grain, it's all ice cream factories now, and candy stores," Ehasz joked. While we do see Ezran continue to be the pastry-obsessed young boy from earlier seasons, now naming the palace baker the official Minister of Crusts and Jellies, he is a wise king. Even for a kid character in an animated show aimed at all audiences, Ezra has always acted mature for his age and understood the responsibilities he had and the consequences of his actions. As Justin Richmond told us, "You'll definitely see his growth as a human and as a leader throughout the show as we're going forward."

At the start of season 4, Ezran starts facing his biggest challenge yet, as his attempts to share his friendship with the titular dragon prince Zym with the kingdom lead to protests from people still angry at magical creatures for years of war. This prompts a rather emotional and poignant speech Ezran gives to his subjects, as well as the queen of dragons, about how peace isn't easy when there remains anger and resentment on both sides. 

It's the best scene of the first half of the season, and a fantastic speech that touches on themes that many shows and movies have tackled in recent years. Rather than just sweep the past under the rug and argue that "forgive and forget" is the only path forward, the scene has Ezran recognize that anger isn't simply going to go away, but we must live with it and learn to open up to tolerance little by little.

Tension in the air

"That speech is really important to us and a really important part of the season," Ehasz told us. "[Ezran] wants to be that king who's idealistic and [wants to] make a better world. And this is just the first of many examples of, 'Hey, it's not that easy.' [...] People have been through a lot, people have suffered. There's real damage out there that needs to be healed. Change is going to take time. All those things. He's just starting to face it. And so this speech really represents a moment of a reality setting in for Ezran."

We see that reality setting in throughout the first half of the season, as the tensions between elves and humans rise up once again now that the two are trying to live together. This is more prominent among the Sunfire elves, who now have to co-exist with Amaya's troops (since she is engaged with Queen Janai) and are encountering culture clash and an inability to open up to each other.

While Ezran and our heroes are trying to keep the peace, there are some who are threatening to ruin everything. Key among them is Claudia. Where our heroes are enjoying a moment of respite and looking towards the peaceful future, our baddies are on a race against time. See, Claudia managed to resurrect her dead father, Viren, but she only has 30 days to do some nefarious ritual to keep him permanently alive, or else it will be undone.

Repentant villains

Surprisingly, it is Viren who's showing the most character growth in this season. Yes, the same guy who acted as the main villain for the first three seasons is having a change of heart, unenthusiastically going along with Claudia's plan and constantly telling her to maybe just stop and let him enjoy his last few days alive. According to Ehasz, he experienced a crisis of faith as he plummeted to his death at the end of the last season.

"What was that last minute? What regrets do you have? What do you wish you had just another hour for? 30 days more for? So having had that last minute, now you're brought back to life. Do you go right back to wanting to rule the world, or did you get a hard lesson in what was important in life in your last minute?"

Now that the show has been renewed through season 7, fans can expect "The Dragon Prince" to tell a continuous story from now on, with plenty of interconnectivity between seasons. "We knew we had all four seasons [starting with this season], we could write them connected to each other," Richmond explained. "They're definitely connected and they're all building to something."

"The Dragon Prince" season 4 is now streaming on Netflix.