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Ranking the 30 Best Dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park Franchise
We rank the dynamic dinos that made the most impact in the Jurassic Park franchise.
When you love dinosaurs, all you want to do is celebrate those extinct kings of the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. Good thing this month is the 30th anniversary of the release of Jurassic Park (now streaming on Peacock!), director Steven Spielberg's magnum opus adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel of the same name. A modern classic, Jurassic Park still holds up as one of the best CGI movies ever, and also as one of Spielberg's most perfect films. It's success spawned two franchise cinematic trilogies stuffed full of every species of dinosaur, and even some invented ones.
While every dinosaur in the franchise is welcome, how they are used in any given film varies. And since there are three decades of Jurassic films to celebrate, SYFY WIRE decided to rank our very favorite dinosaurs that appear in the franchise. Come join us for a wild stampede down memory lane as we lay some appreciation on the menagerie that has gone on to change cinematic history.
What are the best dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park franchise? Let's rank 'em!
A herd of running Gallimimus are introduced in a thrilling scene in Jurassic Park. They provide a sense of scale and stakes for Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) and the kids as they get swept up into the fray. A classic scene that remains memorable to this day.
Introduced in Jurassic World Dominion, these massive creatures are an elegant way to start the movie and give audiences a shorthand for what it was like to walk amongst giants 230 million years ago.
Allosaurs were introduced in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and returned for a repeat appearance in Jurassic World Dominion. These guys are so fierce and compact they get used in underground dino cage matches around the world.
Another dino first introduced in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and brought back in Jurassic World Dominion, this bruiser literally bursts through a wall so we gotta applaud their persistence as a species.
Steggies are first introduced to the franchise in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. They then appear in every sequel release all the way through Jurassic World Dominion. With their bony tails used to impale their attackers, Stegosauruses are not only iconic in look and silhouette, but they do not play around when it comes to defending themselves.
Another herding species, Parasaurolophus are featured in every single Jurassic Park and Jurassic World film, which is actually a rare distinction. Only four dinosaur species can claim that honor, and they often get used to show panic in scenes where they're chased or herded, like in Jurassic World Dominion.
Introduced in The Lost World: Jurassic Park with a return appearance in Jurassic World, these squat dinos have a bony head protector which makes them formidable in a fight where they can head butt their aggressors. We like their bravery and self-preservation tendencies especially when they're corralled in The Lost World.
A classic species with its unique markings, Inguanodons are an old school species favorited by dino heads. But their first and only appearance in the franchise is in Jurassic World Dominion.
Those teeth! Dimorphodons first appear in Jurassic World and then return to cause more chaos in Jurassic World Dominion. These winged hellions are a menacing threat with their nasty bite and winged mobility.
Immediately known for the red fin on their spines, Dimetrodons are introduced in Jurassic World Dominion as the terrifying species hiding in the caves below the Biosyn complex. Hiding in the shadows, they pop out when Dr. Grant and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) wave their torches and get one hell of a jump scare.
A big bad player in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Jurassic World Dominion, Carnotaurus looks like a bull with its toro-style horns and low to the ground swagger. The brawlers are nasty and always looking for a fight. Respect.
If you watched Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, then you might call this species "Bumpy," as the kids do in that animated spin-off series. Known for their spinal array of spines, they have a great set of natural armor to protect themselves against much bigger species. They first appeared in Jurassic Park III and then continued to show up in every sequel up through Jurassic World Dominion.
This flying species has a very bird-like profile and a territorial disposition. Introduced in Jurassic World Dominion, it takes down the plane that Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) use to try and sneak into Biosyn. It's a thrilling scene and a mighty takedown of machinery by the dino.
A gentle giant, the Apatosaurus appears in all three Jurassic World films. A herbivore, these sweet creatures just try to keep to themselves as they graze, but humanity and predators do not make it easy for them.
The next level of pack dinos, the Atrociraptors get to wreak havoc on Malta as they chase Owen and Claire through the whole city at the behest of their Biosyn trainers. They fill in the "baddie" space the velociraptors left behind when they became hero dinos in the new trilogy. It's a great sequence with some great gnashing and bashing.
These little critters are the size of small turkeys and have the nickname of Compies. Introduced in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the tiny guys seem harmless until they collect as a pack around their intended prey and then it's too late. A chilling predator, they appear in four of the sequels, across both trilogies.
Introduced in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Baryonyx makes us think of alligators on steroids. They have similar mouths lined with teeth but their more agile than their gator cousins. They're used in a great way for scares in both Kingdom and Jurassic World Dominion.
Spinosaurus gets their one and only appearance as a "Big Bad" dino in Jurassic Park III. Agile, mean and very determined, it's a worthy nemesis for humans in the closing film of the Jurassic Park trilogy.
Another one and done dino featured in Jurassic World Dominion, the Pyroraptor appears on the ice to stalk Owen and Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) once their plane crashes. The whole sequence was bonkers, and we loved it.
The classic flying dino, Pteranodons show up in a classic scene in The Lost World: Jurassic Park that was actually a scene from Crichton's Jurassic Park book. Always a threatening menace from the skies, they continue to get featured in every single sequel up through Dominion where they're shown nesting in skyscrapers.
A fictional dino created in the labs by mixing T. rex and velociraptor DNA, the Indoraptor is presented in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom as the unhinged creation of man's folly with dinosaurs. A terrifying monster that stalks the characters in Benjamin Lockwood's estate, he also goes up against Blue the velociraptor in a worthy battle.
An OG dino from Jurassic Park, it's featured in the classic scene where the park rangers find it sick and Dr. Sattler checks its poo for contaminants. A specimen then turns up in every single film installment up through the very end.
The Brachiosaurus gets our love for capturing all of our awe as the first dino spotted in the wild on Isla Nublar in Jurassic Park. Beautiful and graceful, it brings the characters to tears and remains a cinematic all-time moments for those of us who saw it on the screen way back in 1993.
Another new species used for utmost scares in Jurassic World Dominion, a Therizinosaurus stalks Claire after she lands in the forest via parachute, post ejection from Kayla's plane. With its milky eyes and and fur/feathers, it's got a primordial look to it that's both fascinating and frightening. It's a great foil for Claire in the sequence.
Another Jurassic World Dominion-only star, Giganotosaurus is the dino that gets the honor of trying to eat the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World characters at the same time. A massive unit, this guy gets to have several great scenes that leave the cast sweating.
The rascals that finally give Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) his just desserts in Jurassic Park. Or more like, they make him their dessert as they surround him before he escapes Isla Nublar. Even though paleontologists are pretty sure they never had those frills in real life, you can't help but appreciate a showy dino with a keen sense of revenge. They bookend the whole franchise by just appearing in the first and last films, but they wipe out the real villains with style.
The mighty predator of the water, Mosasaurus gets his own stadium in Jurassic World, and continues to be the dino of the deep all the way through Dominion. Its scale is amazing and the way it takes out the Indominus rex with a bone-chilling crunch remains a franchise favorite.
3. Indominus rex
Another dino DNA abomination, Indominus rex is created by Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) in Jurassic World. He's that crazy cousin no one wants at the party, and just gets extra mad about it. Stalking humans and T-rexes alike, the big guy gets out into the wild and makes a whole lotta mess until it takes a T. rex, a Velociraptor, and a Mosasaurus to bring him down.
Introduced in Jurassic Park as the next scariest dinos after the T. rex, Velociraptors gave kids nightmares for years. They appear in every single Jurassic film, but they get reframed as trainable in Jurassic World when Owen is able to click train and gain the trust of Blue. From then on, Blue becomes a dino hero and even has her own baby, Beta, introduced in Jurassic World Dominion.
The big guy and all-around MVP of the whole Jurassic franchise. Absolutely terrifying as the "Big Bad" in Jurassic Park, once you hear its roar, you can never un-hear it. Indeed, the T. rex has been involved in every climactic battle in the franchise, which figured out how to never undercut its menace even when bigger and seemingly badder species came into the picture. We tip our safari hat to you, T. rex. May you forever reign.