Here’s how an ad-libbed line in the How To Train Your Dragon franchise made Gobber the Belch a rare LGBT animated hero. How To Train Your Dragon came out in 2010 and was the start of a charming movie trilogy that told the coming-of-age tale of young Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his adventures as a dragon rider. Alongside American Ferrera as Hiccup’s love interest Astrid and Gerard Butler as his dad Stoick the Vast, the cast also included Scottish actor, comedian, and TV host Craig Ferguson, who voiced Gobber the Belch.
As the resident blacksmith in How To Train Your Dragon, Gobber is a respected member of his Viking community. A long time friend and trusted adviser to village chief Stoick, Gobber is an uncle figure, comic sidekick and dedicated mentor to Hiccup and the other dragon riders. Although his sexuality wasn’t addressed in the first film, an improvised line in the sequel offered some clues.
There’s a scene in 2014's How To Train Your Dragon 2 in which Stoick and his long-lost wife Valka (Cate Blanchett) are reunited and immediately start bickering. In response to their tiff, Gobber mutters, “This is why I never married. This and one other reason.” The latter half of that line was ad-libbed by Craig Ferguson while he was recording his dialogue and – according to the man himself – was intended to out Gobber. The ad-lib resonated with trilogy director Dean DeBlois, who is openly gay and decided to keep the line.
In case the reference to Gobber’s sexuality in the first sequel was too oblique, the third film made it a little more obvious. In How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, it seems Gobber is rather taken with Viking beefcake Eret (Kit Harington) who he proclaims has the body of a Norse god. Later, the film doubled down on Gobber’s sexuality when he was seen openly admiring Eret’s sculpted derriere as he walks by.
Having a gay character in the How To Train Your Dragon trilogy was a progressive move for a family-oriented animation, which typically aren’t very LGBTQ inclusive. In fact, Gobber is one of the few openly gay characters in a mainstream animated film alongside Casey Affleck’s Mitch in 2012’s ParaNorman. The tides are changing, however; Disney’s Zootopia featured the subtle inclusion of a married gay couple (antelopes Bucky and Pronk Oryx-Antlerson) and Netflix animated series She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power features several LGBTQ characters. Hopefully, Goober in How To Train Your Dragon and other openly gay characters like him is a sign of things to come.