Minecraft guide: How to find and kill the ender dragon

Ender Dragon
Ender Dragon (Image credit: Mojang)

You've built a magnificent structure that towers into the sky. You've mined an intricate network of tunnels and caves into the ground beneath. You've conquered the Nether and summoned the ominous wither. Every challenge Minecraft has thrown at you, you've handled with aplomb, cool as a cucumber. Except for one thing. You haven't found the ender dragon and beaten it. He lurks in the End, awaiting your arrival. Here's how to get there and show him why you're feared by all zombies in Minecraft.

How do you prepare for the fight?

The ender dragon and his crystals

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The ender dragon is arguably the most harrowing challenge you'll face in Minecraft, so doing your due diligence and properly preparing for the confrontation is endlessly important. What's more, when you get to the End you must defeat the ender dragon or die. There is no option to run away, to live to fight another day. When you come face to face with the dragon, you have to be ready to win. Here's our suggestions for coming out on top:

  • Diamond level armor. The ender dragon is capable of dealing out insane amounts of damage, and you might find yourself falling long distances to an unforgiving ground. Only the best in protection will do.
  • Diamond sword/trident. You'll need a melee weapon that deals large amounts of damage. A diamond sword is preferred, but a trident will do the trick as well.
  • Bow/crossbow. A ranged weapon is paramount to taking down the ender dragon, as it spends much of its time flying around.
  • All the arrows. Bring many, many arrows. Enchanting your bow with Infinite would be best, if possible, so only one arrow would be needed.
  • Diamond pickaxe. You'll need a fast pickaxe to navigate around the battlefield and destroy something very precious to the ender dragon.
  • Golden apples. Crafted by covering a normal apple with gold ingots, golden apples give you regenerative health as well as a decent buffer of damage resistance to absorb a few incoming blows. Incredibly useful, and replaces food in a pinch.
  • Potions. Potions with status effects like poison and damage won't help you here, but potions that give you perks like regenerative health and stronger attacks are perfect for taking on the ender dragon.
  • Lots of building blocks. Mining a ton of end stone right after you arrive in the End and before you engage with the ender dragon is likely the best choice, since it resists the ender dragon's destructive power at least in part.

The reasons for a lot of this will become more evident in the future, but there's one more thing that's basically a necessity before fighting the ender dragon: enchantments. Protection enchantments on all of your armor, as well as damage increasing enchantments like Sharpness for your sword and Power for your Bow, are all great things to have. I also recommend enchanting your boots with Feather Falling, as it's very likely you'll be knocked down from one of the obsidian pillars that surround the ender dragon's lair.

When you're considering what to bring when fighting the ender dragon, imagine your Minecraft character at their strongest possible self. That's basically what you want. But of course, preparing to fight the ender dragon means nothing if you can't find them.

How do you get to the ender dragon?

The dark abyss of the End Portal

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Getting to the End isn't as simple as building a Nether portal in your basement and leaping back and forth. It's a journey you have to take, with a lot of steps along the way and a lot of ingredients.

More importantly, it's a commitment. Once you cross the threshold dividing the Overworld and the End, there is no turning back. The only way to leave is to either defeat the ender dragon or to die and be sent back to the last place you rested...at the cost of everything you were carrying. Whether or not you think the risk is worth it, the decision is a big one.

Fortunately, finding the End Portal and activating it is as simple as following our guide.

How do you defeat the ender dragon?

Ender dragon being healed

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

We're finally here, and the ender dragon is flying around in the distance. So how do you bring it to the ground? Well, it's essential to know not only what it does, but what strategies you can use against the ender dragon in battle. There also happens to be a not-so-secret trick to dramatically weakening the ender dragon, if you're willing to risk the peril.

To beat the ender dragon, you'll need to know how it behaves, how it attacks, what abilities it has, and what strategies you can employ to defeat it. It's a lot to cover, so let's jump right into it.

What the ender dragon does

He's perching

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

First off, here are the different behaviors the ender dragon will exhibit:

  • Circling. The ender dragon will spend the vast majority of its time circling the giant obsidian pillars that dominate the center island in the End. This is the dragon's default state when it isn't actively attacking something.
  • Diving. Occasionally the ender dragon may choose to dive directly at the player for a close-combat attack. Afterwards, the ender dragon will resume its graceful circle.
  • Perching. The ender dragon may land on top of the center end portal structure built out of bedrock. While the ender dragon is perched on top of the fountain-like structure, it will target any players nearby and use a breath attack on them. It may also launch itself off the perch and charge headfirst at the player. After a while, or after taking a certain amount of damage, it'll take off and begin circling again.
  • Strafing. After one of its end crystals are destroyed, the ender dragon will immediately change directions towards the player responsible and launch a fireball.

The ender dragon has three primary attacks that you need to watch out for when you're up against it:

  • Physical attacks. These attacks are fast and aren't easily dodgeable, but are a perfect opportunity to get one or two hits with your sword as the ender dragon comes in and flies away. It's important to keep moving and make sure your health is up.
  • Fireballs. These fireballs are completely different than those fired by ghast or blaze. They cannot be deflected back at the ender dragon, and they do not deal explosive damage. Instead, they leave behind viscous pools of purple liquid that deal damage to anyone who walks through it, similar to a lingering potion of damage. This liquid can be collected into an empty glass bottle to make dragon's breath.
  • Breath attack. Whenever the ender dragon perches on top of the end portal structure, it will fire off repeated breath attacks that last for 3-seconds each. These breath attacks also deal lingering damage similar to a fireball, and the particles emitted by them can also be collected into empty glass bottles to make dragon's breath.

Finally, here are the different abilities and buffs the ender dragon has making it even more challenging to go up against it:

  • The ender dragon destroys all blocks in its way. The ender dragon will demolish any blocks whatsoever in its path, except blocks that are naturally spawned in the End: end stone, obsidian, bedrock, iron bars, and the end portal. For this reason, mining a ton of end stone before you fight the ender dragon is never a bad idea.
  • The ender dragon has a massive amount of health. A purple health bar will be displayed at the top of the player's screen representing the ender dragon's health. The ender dragon has a ton of health and will take a ton of hits before going down.
  • The ender dragon is healed along the way. On top of the four obsidian pillars surrounding the end portal structure sits end crystals. These end crystals actually heal the ender dragon from a distance while it flies around, making damaging the beast even more difficult. These end crystals are usually protected by iron bar cages.
  • The ender dragon is immune to arrows while perched. Whenever the ender dragon sits on top of the end portal structure, one might assume that it would be a perfect opportunity to launch a flurry of arrows at it. However, any arrows fired at the ender dragon while it's perched catch fire and are immediately deflected.
  • The ender dragon is immune to a lot of attack types. The ender dragon only takes damage from explosions and from the player. Status effects like poison and instant damage don't do anything, it is immune to fire, and suffocation and crushing are useless since the ender dragon destroys almost all block types.

How to deal with the end crystals

An end crystal up close

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you're intimately familiar with what the ender dragon can do, you're ready to defeat it once and for all. When fighting, it's important to know how to attack, when to attack, and what to attack. If you keep your head and focus on your objective, the ender dragon will fall in no time. There's definitely an order to go in as well.

First off, destroy the end crystals. These end crystals spawn on top of towering obsidian obelisks surrounding the center end portal structure, and they actively heal the ender dragon while it flies around. Attempting to kill the ender dragon while these end crystals are active is significantly more difficult, and letting up for a single moment can undo all the hard work you've put in. This makes the end crystals the most important single aspect of your battle with the ender dragon.

Fortunately, destroying the end crystals isn't terribly difficult. End crystals are vulnerable to all forms of attack, including a single shot from a bow. If you're a gifted archer, you could potentially take down all of the end crystals surrounding the ender dragon without ever having to get near to them. Many of the end crystals may be protected by a cage of iron bars, so in that case, you'll have to scale their obsidian perches to excavate them. Here's how to approach the end crystals:

  • Found out how many there are, and where they are. There will be multiple end crystals, but it helps to know exactly how many you need to take down, and where they're going to be.
  • Plot a path to destroy them. The end crystals all have a set range in which they can heal the ender dragon, so taking out one every so often doesn't help if the next closest end crystal can accomplish the same task. Pick one end crystal and move immediately to the next closest.
  • See if any end crystals are unprotected anywhere. The end crystals that have little to no protection will be the easiest to destroy. Simply launching an arrow in their direction is enough to take it down.
  • Use end stone towers to scale the obsidian pillars. End stone can't be easily destroyed by the ender dragon, so it's the perfect substance to climb up to the end crystals.
  • Be quick, and decisive. When you're climbing, the ender dragon may try and knock you off in various ways. Be fast and don't stick around for too long when you've accomplished your task. Having Feather Falling on your boots helps a lot if the worst should happen.
  • Destroy the iron cages, but be careful around the end crystal. When you do get to the top of a tower, make sure and mine the iron cage surrounding the end crystal, but it may be best not to directly mine the end crystal. End crystals explode with more power than TNT whenever they're damaged, so you don't want to be standing next to them.
  • The bow is your best friend. Using the bow is easily the best way of handling the end crystals since it lets you get a little distance on them.
  • Use end stone to your advantage. If you're at the top of the tower, climbing all the way down just to find a good vantage point to destroy the end crystal doesn't make a ton of sense. Instead, build a platform out of end stone a safe distance from the end crystal. End stone is highly resistive to explosions, so it should withstand the punishment.
  • Time your destruction. The ender dragon is reasonably predictable in their flight pattern, so time the destruction of the end crystals to correspond when they're healing the ender dragon. End crystals that are destroyed while active deal a pretty decent amount of damage to the ender dragon.
  • Don't forget about the ender dragon. Don't focus exclusively on the end crystals. Launch a couple of arrows at the ender dragon between every action, to set up for damaging it when you destroy the next end crystal.
  • Don't stay on the towers for long. Once the end crystal is destroyed, make your way down from the obsidian tower as quickly and safely as possible. The ender dragon won't hesitate to make your life difficult if you goof off.
  • Avoid the fireballs. The ender dragon will immediately shift towards you and launch a fireball at you whenever an end crystal is destroyed. Watch out for these and avoid the noxious pools of ooze left behind.

How to finish the ender dragon

Another shot of the ender dragon

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once the end crystals are all destroyed, the battle with the ender dragon is a fair deal easier. Now you can focus all your efforts on it, content in the knowledge that the ender dragon has no more backup, and any health you take is gone for good. More than that, at this point, the ender dragon should already be hurting if you timed your attacks correctly. At this point in the battle, there are three strategies to employ:

  • Stay mobile. The ender dragon's attacks focus on your position when it begins the attack, so continuously moving will make it difficult for the ender dragon to lock on. It also makes it easier for you to avoid the lingering pools of purple goo that the ender dragon leaves behind.
  • Use your bow. There's no point swinging a sword around in the air for ten minutes while the ender dragon is flying off into the distance. The bow lets you put in a lot of damage, and is your most effective weapon in almost every situation. Almost.
  • Use your sword. The only time the bow is not a great weapon is when the ender dragon perches on the center end portal structure. If this happens, all arrows simply bounce off and have no effect. Now it's time to use your sword and get in close. Be wary: the ender dragon will launch breath attacks as well as charge at you, so staying mobile is extra important. If you're the cautious type, simply wait, and the ender dragon will eventually launch into the air again.

Fighting the ender dragon is as simple as playing it smart. Take down the ender dragon's support first, avoid getting into squabbles with endermen, and confuse the ender dragon by maneuvering constantly. Keep your head on your shoulders, and the ender dragon won't be able to bite it off.

The ender dragon exploding

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once the ender dragon is defeated, it will fly directly above the center end portal structure and dive towards the ground as it falls apart. It'll explode into a positively massive amount of experience points (more than any other single source can provide) that can take you as high as level 78. That's a lot of enchanting. Then the End Portal will activate, allowing you to return home.

You're free to explore the End as much as you want after this, but once the ender dragon is defeated, you can go to and from the End as you please using the End Portal. You might also notice that a black and purple egg rests on top of the End Portal's structure, signifying the possibility of reviving the ender dragon and facing it once again. The ender dragon egg is also the single rarest item in the entire game, making it a valuable trophy.

Once you depart from the End for the first time through the newly activated End Portal, Minecraft's credits will start rolling. Another valuable experience gained from defeating the ender dragon.

How do you re-summon the ender dragon?

I gotta get out

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

If you wish to go through all of this again, you can actually re-summon the ender dragon and battle against it multiple times. It's a little bit of work to do it, but no more than finding and fighting the ender dragon the first time. The rewards aren't as great, but this is great if you're looking for an additional challenge in the late game in Minecraft. The ender dragon never fails to be an entertaining battle.

To re-summon the ender dragon, you'll need the following:

  • 28 blocks of glass. You can create glass by smelting sand in a furnace, making this the easiest of the ingredients to acquire.
  • 4 eyes of ender. Eyes of ender are harder to get, combining blaze powder and an ender pearl in a crafting table. Then again, you're very likely familiar with this after defeating the ender dragon the first time.
  • 4 ghast tears. Ghast tears are semi-rare drops collected from killing ghasts in the Nether. Using a sword enchanted with Looting increases your chances of getting them.

To re-summon the ender dragon, do the following:

  1. Make sure you have all your ingredients. The first step is creating new end crystals, requiring the aforementioned ingredients.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Combine your ingredients. Find a crafting table to combine your ingredients as shown above. It doesn't matter where you create them.
  2. Travel to the End. Once you have your end crystals, you need to go to the End to re-summon the ender dragon.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Place the end crystals around the End Portal. Go to the End Portal in the center of the End and place an end crystal on each side of it.
  2. Summon the ender dragon! Once the end crystals are placed, the top of every obsidian pillar will explode, destroying any blocks players may have placed. The ender dragon will be respawned, as well as the original end crystals. Finally, the new end crystals will explode.

You can re-summon and fight the ender dragon as many times as you want, as long as you craft new end crystals. Re-summoned ender dragons only give a fraction of the experience points, and none of them will spawn any more ender dragon eggs, so the rewards aren't as great. But if you're looking for a fun fight, look no further.

The aftermath of the war

Taking down end crystals

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

You've done it. You've beaten the venerable ender dragon, and gained the title Lord of Minecraft! That title doesn't actually exist, but it's pretty cool nonetheless. The ender dragon is the closest thing Minecraft has to a final boss, and it is a pretty big moment for anyone playing through Minecraft in Survival. What's after that? Maybe taking on the wither and the ender dragon at the same time.

Have you defeated the ender dragon? How did you do it? Sound off in the comments below!

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.