The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and later the three Hobbit movies, translated the work of JRR Tolkien to the big screen with… well, mostly great success. But in adapting such expansive works of fiction to the silver screen means you’re going to miss some of the richest character development for anyone outside of the primary two or three characters. This is the second part in this series in which we give you a little more depth and lore about some of the best characters to emerge from the mind of Tolkien – including some that never made the jump from page to screen.
10. Peregrin Took
Peregrin Took, or more commonly known as Pippin, was one of the four hobbits that joined the Fellowship of the Ring. Like his first cousin and best friend, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Pippin’s family was one of the wealthiest in the Shire. His family lived in a place called the Great Smials in Tookland, and the head usually held the title of Thain. This is the grand hobbit military leader, a title that has been passed down through the generations ever since the fall of Fornost and the Dúnedain Kingdom. After the War of the Ring and the death of his father, Pippin took up the role of Thain of the Shire, and was also made Counselor of the North Kingdom by Aragorn, King of Gondor. Faramir Took, Pippin’s only son and heir, also inherited this title after his father’s departure to Gondor. Here, both Pippin and Merry would eventually be buried alongside Aragorn. Faramir Took eventually married Goldilocks Gardner, one of Sam’s daughters.
There was a rumor among the hobbits that one ancestor of the Tooks may have married an elf long ago. This might explain this family’s adventurous nature. When the Fellowship began in Rivendell, Pippin was the youngest in the group. He was only 28 years old at the time, and hobbits consider adulthood to start at the age of 33. After he and his cousin Merry drank the Ent-draught in Farngorn forest, they began to grow – so much so that they became the tallest hobbits in history, even surpassing the famed Bandobras “Bullroarer” Took, one of Pippin’s ancestors and hero of the Shire.
Among the people of Minas Tirith, Gondor’s capital city, Pippin was known as Ernil i Pheriannath or Prince of the Halflings. Since he was on familiar terms with Gandalf and had a somewhat informal attitude towards Denethor, the city’s steward and ruler, people believed him to be royalty. During their stay in the city, Pippin formed a strong relationship with Beregond, the captain of Faramir’s personal guard. During the Battle of the Black Gate, when the remaining forces stormed Mordor in an attempt to give Frodo the time necessary to cast the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom, Pippin actually saved Beregond’s life by killing the captain of the huge trolls known as the Olog-hai. Pippin can also be attributed for starting the Scouring of the Shire, when on their return home, the hobbits are accosted by Saruman’s enforcers.
As one of the few elves still in Middle Earth to be born in the Undying Lands, Galadriel was considered by Tolkien to be among the wisest in the world. Only Feanor, a fellow Noldorin elf, would even come close, but because of her many years, Galadriel had no real equal. The same thing could be said about her beauty, and especially her hair, which was described as “golden, touched with silver.” Feanor even begged her for a strand on three occasions, but she refused him every time. She did, however, give Gimli three of her hair strands. Her name, Galadriel, translates to “maiden crowned with a garland of light” and it was given to her by her husband Celeborn. Her initial names, given by her parents, Finarfin prince of the Noldor, and Earwen princess of the Teleri, were Narwen and Artanis. However, she chose to be called Galadriel instead.
During the Second Age, Galadriel and Celeborn founded the Kingdom of Eregion, located at the western entrance of Moria. During this time, the two kingdoms lived in peace and harmony and trade flourished. Later, the elves moved over the Misty Mountains and settled the forest of Lothlorien. The two elves never took on any royal titles and were known simply as Lord and Lady of Lothlorien. But even though their relations with the dwarves had subsided over time, Galadriel was always keen on keeping good relations with the “bearded folk.” She always saw in them great potential in battling the orcs. During the events in the books and movies, when the Fellowship entered her forest, she welcomed Gimli with open arms, so to speak, speaking highly of the once mighty dwarf kingdom of Moria and talking to him in the dwarven language of Khuzdul.
Galadriel was also in possession of Nenya, Ring of Water – one of the three rings of power given to the elves. This ring is not usually visible to the average onlooker, and only Frodo was able to see it because he too was a Ring-bearer. Nenya had the power of protection and concealment, and Galadriel used it to hide and guard her kingdom from the evil forces of the dark lord. In the aftermath of Gandalf’s battle with the Balrog in the depths of Moria, Galadriel was able to bring the wizard back and looked after him in Caras Galadhon, the center of power in Lothlorien. She also gave him the white robes in accordance with his new position in the Order of Wizards. In the aftermath of the One Ring’s destruction, Galadriel and her wood elves stormed the fortress of Dol Guldur, located south of Mirkwood, where they would destroy the remaining pockets of orc resistance and raze the fortress to the ground; thus, officially, ending the War of the Ring.
Like we’ve seen in the Return of the King flashback, Gollum was not always the misshapen creature we come to know. A long time before the events surrounding the plot of the books, Gollum was once a member of a hobbit tribe called the Riverfolk that lived along the banks of the Anduin River. What made them different from all the other hobbits was their lack of fear for water. The Riverfolk were master swimmers and built small boats and fishing rods for a living. They were related to the Stoorish hobbits of the Shire. We also know that Gollum’s name was Smeagol, which translates to “burrowing” or “worming in.” His name was likely chosen because he had a fondness for doing such activities. Nevertheless, his branch of the family was wealthy and influential. The Riverfolk lived in a matriarchal society and his great-grandmother was the matriarch of the whole tribe.
Between the events taking place in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Gollum was captured by the forces of Mordor and tortured for information by none other than Sauron himself. And before he was set loose, he told the Dark Lord that the ring was in the possession of someone named “Baggins” who lived in a land called “Shire.” What most people don’t know is the fact that Gollum knew where the Shire was, but he never revealed that information.
It’s important to note some subtleties about Gollum and the real drama that surrounds this character. When he was captured by Frodo and Sam on their way to Mordor, Gollum begins calling Frodo “Master” and, for a time at least, follows him willingly. Interestingly, he never called Sauron or Shelob master, referring to them simply as “good friends.” When in the Dead Marshes, Gollum goes through a repentant change. His voice turns soft, he has a fight with his alter ego that is, in fact, the Ring, and he truly wants to join Frodo in his quest. But unfortunately, Sam doesn’t notice the change – or at least doesn’t believe it. He insults and mistreats Gollum, and his chance at redemption is gone forever.
Glorfindel is a somewhat important character in the books, but surprisingly he didn’t make it to the movies. Some of his actions were either removed from the plot completely, or taken over by other characters. He is also an important figure in the overall universe of Middle Earth. He was born in the Undying Lands, and was the leader of the House of the Golden Flower in Gondolin during the First Age, up until its destruction. During the Battle of Gondolin, Glorfindel took on a mighty Balrog in order to give his people time to evacuate. And just like Gandalf after him, he managed to push the creature off of a cliff, but he too was dragged down with it. He was, nevertheless, brought back to life in the Undying Lands, and for his spirit of sacrifice and valor in battle, Glorfindel was awarded with power that was almost equal to that of the Maiar, like Gandalf.
Glorfindel was sent back to Middle Earth after the forging of the Ring and the construction of the Black Fortress in Mordor, as it became increasingly clear that a battle with the dark forces was inevitable. He was put in charge of Rivendell’s forces, even though Elrond was lord at the time. They defeated the kingdom of Angmar at the battle of Fornost, but Glorfindel prophesied that the “Witch King will fall but in the far future, but not by the hand of man.” During the events in the books, Glorfindel was the one who aided Aragorn and the hobbits in reaching Rivendell and escape the Nazgul, not Arwen. He was also supposed to take part in the Fellowship, but Gandalf favored Merry and Pippin instead, thinking that Glorfindel’s awesome power would only draw attention to the company’s otherwise secretive mission.
6. Dain Ironfoot
Dain Ironfoot was the leader of the dwarves living in the Iron Hills. During the battle of Azanulbizar, at the entrance to Moria, Dain killed Azog the Defiler and leader of the orcs, and was able to avenge both his father Nain and his grand-uncle Thror, who were both Azog’s victims from previous battles. In The Hobbit movie trilogy, however, Azog survives this battle and becomes the main antagonist of the plot. In the original story, King Thrain, Thorin’s father, wants to push forward and reclaim Moria, but Dain prevented this from happening. He was conscious of the fact that, even though they won the battle at the entrance, it was a suicide mission to try and retake the mine.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Five Armies, when Thorin, Fili, and Kili are all killed, Dain inherits the crown of King Under the Mountain. He proved himself to be a wise ruler, bringing wealth and prosperity to both his people and the men living nearby. In typical dwarven fashion, Gloin describes Dain as venerable and fabulously rich. Between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Sauron sends several emissaries to Dain, promising him three of the seven dwarfish rings of power, as well as Moria, in exchange for Bilbo’s whereabouts. Dain refused him every time. During the War of the Ring, when his lands were also besieged by orcish forces at the Battle of Dale, Dain fell in battle while guarding the body of his ally and long-time friend, Brand, the King of Dale and Bard the Bowman’s grandson. After his death, he was succeeded by his son, Thorin III Stonehelm, under whom dwarves colonized both Moria and the caves behind Helm’s Deep.
Smaug, also known as “The Golden,” or Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities, is the most powerful dragon of the Third Age, and probably the only one still living in Middle Earth. Dragons first appeared during the First Age when Morgoth, Middle Earth’s own version of Lucifer, created them as a means to fight the Noldor Elves. But since not even Morgoth himself could create beings from scratch, but only corrupt the ones already in existence, it’s not entirely clear how he made them. And there were several variations of dragons, depending on their means of moving around, or on their ability to breathe fire. The first dragons were wingless creatures and walked on all fours, similar to Komodo dragons in the real world.
The second variation of dragons, which were only revealed to the world during the War of Wrath and were Melkor’s ultimate weapons, also had the ability to fly and some of them could even breathe fire. This war was, without a shadow of a doubt, the single most devastating conflict in Middle Earth’s history. It changed the face of the continent forever, resulted in Melkor’s banishment from Earth, as well as the almost complete annihilation of these dragons. Some may have fled to other lands, while one, Smaug, retreated into the mountains to the north.
When Smaug finally reappeared, he took over Erebor and the immense riches inside. He drove the dwarves living there into exile, and devastated the lands surrounding the Lonely Mountain for years before he went into hibernation. Fully aware of his only weakness, which was his soft underbelly, he allowed precious stones and diamonds to imbed themselves into his skin as he lay on the huge dwarven treasure. Only one small patch remained exposed, a weakness that Bard the Bowman would later take advantage of. It is important to note that, even though Smaug may have been the sole dragon survivor of the War of Wrath, he was by no means the largest. In fact, he was quite small by comparison to Ancalagon, the largest and fiercest dragon to have ever existed.
4. The Two Blue Wizards
During the Second Age in Middle Earth, and due to Sauron’s increasing power, the gods sent down a group of Maiar (a sort of angels) to challenge his threat to the world. Once in Middle Earth, these Maiar took on the appearance of elderly men, known to the elves as Istari, or as Wizards by humans. They were, however, limited in their abilities by the Valar (gods) who gave them instructions not to present themselves in any majestic form, or to openly display their powers in order to rule over the hearts and minds of men and elves. They were instead instructed to guide and offer council, and to unite the free peoples of Middle Earth against the Dark Threat.
Though the Maiar were immortal, their earthly bodies were not, and were subject to hunger, thirst, fear, fatigue, and even death. The exact number of these Maiar sent to Middle Earth is unknown, but there were at least five. The head of this Order of Wizards was Saruman, and his second in command was Gandalf. Then there was Radagast the Brown (you know, the hippie wizard in the forest in the Hobbit movies), who was known for his excessive consumption of mushrooms – of the magical variety, if you catch our drift – and two more blue wizards about who people knew almost nothing; not even the other wizards.
What little could be gathered about those two is that their names were Alatar and Pallando, but they might have also been known as Morinehtar and Rómestámo in Middle Earth. It is believed that they came to Earth much earlier than the other Maiar and had since travelled to the east as early as the Second Age. Since so little is known about them, it is fairly easy to speculate about their eventual fate. Some believe that, even though news hadn’t reached the west, the two blue wizards were instrumental in weakening Sauron’s reinforcements coming from that part of the world – both during the War of the Ring, as well as at the end of the Second Age when the One Ring was lost.
Faramir was the second son of Denethor II, Steward of Gondor, and younger brother of Boromir. He was the Captain of the Rangers of Ithilien, and after his brother’s death, he also took on the title of Captain of the White Tower, and heir to Gondor. When their mother died, Faramir was just five years old and his brother was 10. Their father, Denethor, was the most affected by her death and became increasingly detached from his children. But despite his obvious favoritism towards Boromir, the two brothers were very close and there was no jealousy or rivalry between them. But while Boromir embodied all the characteristics of a strong and fearless warrior, Faramir had a more gentle nature and a higher affinity for learning and music. His nature was what started his friendship with Gandalf in the first place, even though his father did not approve of this relationship.
But even though Faramir was seen as his brother’s inferior on the battlefield, he nevertheless proved himself in battle and as a military strategist time and time again. While in the House of Healing (following the defeat of Sauron), Faramir was healed by Aragorn with the miracle plant athelas. When Faramir awoke, he immediately recognized Aragorn as the true King of Gondor. While in recovery there, he met Eowyn, and they fell in love. During Aragon’s official coronation, Faramir surrendered his office as Steward to the King, but Aragorn insisted that he and his descendants continue to hold that position. Faramir was also given the title of Prince of Ithilien and Lord of Emyn Arnen. He died at the age of 120 and was succeded by his son, Elboron. According to Tolkien, “As far as any character is ‘like me’, it is Faramir.”
2. Tom Bombadil
Among all of Tolkien’s characters, Tom Bombadil is definitely the most mysterious and probably the most powerful. He is also the oldest being in Middle Earth, according to himself, saying that he was there even before Melkor came “from the Outside.” He has the appearance of a shorter-than-usual man, with a long brown beard and blue eyes. He’s described as being merry, and almost always singing. When the hobbits first encounter him (in the book version of Fellowship of the Ring), he saves them from the Old Man Willow, an ancient willow tree of the Old Forest. Later in the story, he saves them again, this time from a Borrow wight, and gives them the enchanted daggers that they’ll use throughout the remainder of the story. Frodo eventually exchanges his for Bilbo’s famed sword, Sting. It definitely wasn’t explained in the movies, but this is why Merry was able to injure the Witch King; because he used this dagger against him.
Bombadil is married to Goldberry, a beautiful blonde woman, for whom Tom gathers water lilies. Her beauty stunned the hobbits, who saw in her elfish features but “less keen and lofty” and “deeper and nearer to the mortal heart.” Her true identity is unknown, however, and she might be a spirit of the river, since her nickname is, in fact, “Daughter of the River.” In any case, while at their house, Tom Bombadil asks Frodo if he can see the Ring. When Frodo hands it to him, Tom looks at it for a while and then slips it on his finger, but nothing happens. He even made it disappear for a second before he gave it back. Frodo even wore it in Tom’s presence, but he could still see him. During the Council of Elrond in Rivendell, when the free peoples of Middle Earth were deciding what to do with the Ring, some even proposed giving it to Tom Bombadil for safekeeping. Gandalf refused, however, saying that he wouldn’t take the ring willingly, and even if he somehow did, he would soon forget about it and throw it away.
Now, there are some theories out there about who Tom Bombadil really is. Some say that he’s Iluvatar himself, the almighty god. Others believe him to be Nature made flesh. Others believe him to be the personification of Tolkien in the story. The fact of the matter is that nobody really knows.
Though it is not certain what eventually happened to the two blue wizards we mentioned before, Saruman was the only member of the Maiar we know for certain to go against his initial mission in aiding the men and elves in the fight against the forces of evil. But before he eventually turned sides and allied himself with Sauron, in the hopes of one day betraying him and taking all power for himself, he was the leader of both the Wizard Order and the White Council, a league of wizards and elves that opposed Sauron. As leader of the Wizard Order, Saruman was gifted with a wide variety of magical powers and abilities. He was also extremely knowledgeable in ringlore and machinery. But his greatest power of all, and a power that he would keep even after he was defeated by Gandalf, was his speech. With it, he could mesmerize and fool pretty much anyone. In fact, after he was defeated by the Ents and locked away in the tower of Isengard, he eventually convinced them to let him go. In the movies, however, he died then and there (in a deleted scene, no less).
In any case, even though Saruman didn’t start out evil when he first set foot in Middle Earth during the Second Age, he became increasingly and secretly jealous of Gandalf, his inferior, and more and more obsessed with the One Ring and its powers. But when all of his dreams of taking control of Middle Earth had shattered and he managed to escape Isengard, he fled to the Shire. There, he would take it under his control and act as a criminal kingpin under the name of Sharkey until the return of Frodo and the other hobbits. After his defeat at the Battle of Bywater, Frodo confronted him and banished Saruman from the hobbit lands. But before he could leave, he had his throat slit by Gríma Wormtongue on the very doorstep of Bag End.