The film's animators opted to make Elliott look more like an oriental, rather than occidental, dragon because oriental ones are usually associated with good. The film is the first involving animation in which none of the Nine Old Men (Disney's original team of animators) were involved. One technique used in the film involved compositing, whereby up to three scenes might be composited together - for example, a live foreground, a live background, and an animated middle ground containing Elliott. Ken Anderson, who created him, explained that he thought it would be appropriate to make him "a little paunchy" and not always particularly graceful when it comes to flying. Don Hahn, who was assistant director to Don Bluth on the film, gained some experience working with a combination of live-action and animation before later going on to work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Elliott is a dragon with the ability to become invisible. He is depicted as a benevolent character who assists children in need, like Pete. He is shown to be fairly clumsy, even when flying. He is also shown to be very protective of Pete.
Elliott is apparently a guardian of children, coming and going, seeking those who are in need of a friend, at least until they have a family who can be there for them or helps those he befriends until their problems are all resolved. And he hates it when some nasty abusive adult abuse children. Once a child has no further need of him, he sadly moves on and never sees them again, so it's possible he is really a guardian spirit whose purpose is to protect and help children.
Elliott can be a bit of a mischief-maker intentionally or not, as he caused various instances of property damage, and Pete was blamed due to him being invisible -- although he never means any real harm to anyone.
Elliott is initially shown as an unseen force that prevents the abusive Gogans from capturing Pete, who is running away from them. His true form is revealed the next morning, when they have breakfast. He invisibly follows Pete into the town of Passamaquoddy, where his clumsy antics cause Pete to be labeled as a source of bad luck. Elliott reveals himself to Lampie, the lighthouse keeper, before he and Pete escape to a seaside cave. When Pete is taken in by Nora, Lampie's daughter, Elliott remains invisible, leading her to believe he is merely an imaginary friend. He later accompanies Pete to school, causing more antics. This leads to Dr. Terminus, a medical showman, plotting to capture him, as dragons supposedly have many medical uses.
At some point, Elliott locates Paul, Nora's lost boyfriend, though she fails to believe it at the time. The night that Paul plans to return home, Elliott is captured by Dr. Terminus, while Pete is done so by the Gogans. Elliott is able to free himself and Pete and they return home to the lighthouse. By this time, a storm has broken out, causing the light to go out. Despite being cramped in the narrow staircase, Elliott uses his fire breath to relight it, revealing himself to Nora and Lampie. The next morning, Elliott is praised for his help, while Nora is reunited with Paul. Pete is given a safe home with them. This leads Elliott to leave in search of another child to help. After saying goodbye to Pete, he flies away.
Elliott was a common audience member at the club. In the episode "Ask Von Drake", he asked Ludwig what kind of day it was, and he replied by saying, "It's a brazzle-dazzle day, of course!" In "Mickey and Minnie's Big Vacation", he, along with Dragon Maleficent, Mushu, Madam Mim, and the Reluctant Dragon, caused a fire on the stage.
In the remake version, Elliott is said to be a fierce dragon who lives in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. His appearance is significantly altered and now looks more realistic thanks to being CGI, losing his trademark pink hair and gaining thick, green fur around his body. He also has a noticeable resemblance to both dogs and lions in his body and face and sports protruding lower fangs that are visible when his mouth is closed. Like his previous incarnation, Elliott can turn invisible to camouflage himself. In this version of the story, it is also revealed that he cared for and protected Pete for a total of six years.
Elliott first encounters Pete in his forest when Pete survives his parents' fatal car crash. When Pete is surrounded by wolves, Elliott's presence frightens them away and he approaches the boy. At first, Pete is frightened of the dragon, but soon realizes the dragon is extremely friendly. Pete and Elliott then remain together for the next six years, with the dragon guarding, playing with and protecting the boy.
When Pete is found by Park Ranger Grace Meecham, her fiancé Jack, and Jack's daughter Natalie, Elliott discovers Pete has gone missing and becomes very worried. He is spotted by Jack's brother, Gavin, who along with his fellow lumberjacks, follows Elliott's trail into the forest. When they come upon Pete and Elliott's treehouse, Elliott is quick to chase them off. After locating Pete and realizing that Grace and Jack can make him happy and care for him, Elliott sadly returns to his cave.
Pete later returns to the forest with Grace, Natalie and Grace's father, Mr. Meacham to show them where he lives and introduce them to Elliott. As he makes friends with the family, Elliott is ambushed and tranquilized by Gavin and the other lumberjacks, who then chain him up and lock him in their mill's warehouse.
With Natalie's aid, she and Pete are able to enter the warehouse and free Elliott, who is still too weak and weary from the tranquilizers to fly away. Mr. Meacham, Grace and the kids then drive Elliott out of the mill towards the forest, with police in hot pursuit. During the chase, Jack rejoins them and Gavin unsuccessfully tries to stop the group from escaping, and halfway across the bridge, Elliott, now regaining his strength, angrily breathes fire at the police to stop his pursuers, causing the bridge to become damaged. Pete tries to calm him but the dragon refuses to listen until Pete realizes and shows Elliott that Grace and Jack are in trouble, and that he needs them just like he needs Elliott. Elliott then dives after Grace and Jack to save them when the damaged section of bridge collapses. Elliott successfully saves them, flying them back onto the bridge and they are all reunited. When helicopters appear however, Pete and Elliott fly away, despite Grace's plea.
Returning to the ruined remains of their treehouse, Elliott, knowing that Grace and her family can care for and love Pete as much as he has, prepares to leave forever as everyone now will be after him. He then encourages Pete to go back to them, and after a tearful final hug, they go their separate ways. Pete then reunites with Grace, Natalie, Jack and Mr. Meacham, while Elliott flies away to find a new home.
Elliott is not seen nor heard from again afterwards, but it is shown that he is living happy and free among many other dragons. Pete, now living with Grace and her family as their adopted son, is also shown to know where Elliott lives.
Video Game Appearances
Elliott has been turned into a Blotworx version of himself by the Mad Doctor, and resembles the Pete's Dragon float from the Main Street Electrical Parade. The Doctor has ordered him to guard of his underground laboratory. He serves as a boss battle; Mickey can either use magic paint to redeem the blotling that has been controlling the robotic Elliott, or destroy the creature entirely with magic thinner; in this case, the battle will be completed by leading the roof to collapse on the monster. In the fragment of ending resulting from the first option, Elliott, freed from the influence of the Blotling, wanders the streets of Mean Street. In the ending resulting from the latter option, the fragments of the robotic Elliott are carried by the citizens in the manner of a Chinese New Year dragon puppet during the parade.
Graphic Novel version
In the Graphic Novel adaptation, Mickey fights the battle with thinner, and the dragon is accordingly crushed. However, once the fight is over, Mickey looks back at the dead robotic mass, and comments that he'd seens "something familiar in that thing -- something good" (which implies Mickey recognized Elliott). In the ending, rather than being carried like a Chienes New Year dragon as in the game, he is turned into a musical float.
Elliott makes an appearance in Disney INFINITY as a cameo. In the 3DS version, he would change all the adventures on the game board to Power Adventures.
Elliott has appeared alongside Pete in almost every version of the Main Street Electrical Parade.
Elliott also makes a brief cameo appearance in the Drawn to Animation presentation inside The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios, where he is seen in a photograph with Mushu, who refers to him as his cousin.
- Elliott makes a cameo in the Who Framed Roger Rabbit Special Edition DVD on one of the menus, but does not appear in the film itself.