“The world has changed. I see it in the water. I feel it in the Earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it.” — Galadriel.
The influence of J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of The Lord of the Rings in the fantasy genre is vast and rich. The concept of Orcs, Elves, Halflings, and Wizards are not only brought to life but are given an archetype with their own geography, history, language, and role in the battle between good and evil. The collective works of Tolkien eventually made their way into pop culture when his original trilogy was turned into an epic by legendary director Peter Jackson.
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy would bring Tolkien’s work into the spotlight, but with the sheer number of characters and locations in the trilogy, and with The Return of the King’s 20th Anniversary around the corner, we have put together a list of the major characters and strategic locations from the film to get everyone up to speed ahead of the screening.
Whether you’re new to The Lord of the Ringsor a veteran, join us for the Ultimate Return of the King Guide.
Frodo is the main protagonist of Lord of the Rings, the ring-bearer, and one of the three hobbits who sailed to the Aman (Undying Lands) at the end of the third age.
Adopted by Bilbo Baggins after his parents died in a boating accident on the Brandywine River.
Gollum led Frodo and Sam around Minas Morgul and up the Stairs of Cirith Ungol into ‘The Tunnel,’ where Frodo is attacked by Shelob and saved by Sam.
Frodo was overcome by the power of the ring at the Cracks of Doom only to have Gollum bite his finger off and take the ring for himself. Frodo pushes him into the fires of Mount Doom destroying the ring.
Sam is the youngest son of Hamfast and Bell Gamgee. He is Frodo Baggins’ best friend and gardener.
Sam is chosen by Gandolf to be Frodo’s companion on his journey to destroy the ring. He saves Frodo’s life more than once on their quest.
After Shelob attacked Frodo, he took the ring (making him a ring-bearer) and intended to complete the quest on his own. However, once he found out Frodo was still alive, he set out to save him from the Tower of Cirith Ungol.
Sam helped Frodo destroy the ring. He then married Rose (Rosie) Cotton, and they had 13 children.
Peregrin Took (Pippin) is one of Frodo Baggins’ youngest and closest friends.
He swore allegiance to Denethor II (the Stewart of Gondor and Boromir’s father) and works for him.
During the Siege of Gondor Pippin is instrumental in saving the unconscious Faramir from being burned alive with Denethor (warning Gandolf that Denethor was preparing a pyre in the Hallows for himself and Faramir).
After the War of the Ring he became the 32nd Thain of the Shire.
Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry) was a Hobbit of the Shire and one of Frodo Baggins’ cousins and close friends.
Best friends with Pippin and is one of the nine companions of the Fellowship of the Ring. Merry rode with Éowyn to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and helped her defeat the Witch-King, stabbing him in the leg with his weapon (one of the few weapons of Middle-earth able to pierce the armor of a Nazgûl).
After the battle he was knighted and given the new name of “Holdwine.” Merry became the eighth Master of Buckland after the War of the Ring.
Famous Quote: “I think we might have made a mistake leaving the Shire, Pippin.”
Gimli was born in TA 2879 of the House Durin, and he fought alongside Elves in the War of the Rings. Legolas became one of his best friends.
He accompanied Aragorn and Legolas through the Paths of the Dead recruiting the Dead Men of Dunharrow. Helped win the Battle of Pelargir, defeating the Haradrim Corsairs of Umbar and using the fleet to break the Siege of Gondor and Pelennor Fields.
After Sauron was defeated, Gimli became the first lord of the Glittering Caves, helped rebuild the Great Gate of Minas Tirith, and became the first Dwarf to sail to the Undying Lands.
Born TA 2948 in Gondor, Théoden was the only son of Thengel and became king after his father’s death in TA 2980.
Théoden lead the Rohirrim to Pelennor Fields to aid Gondor, bravely leading the charge against the legions of Sauron, breaking their lines and relieving Gondor.
Died fighting the Witch-King of Angmar, becoming mortally wounded when his horse Snowmane fell on him after being attacked by the fellbeast.
Famous Quote: “We shall have peace… We shall have peace, when you answer for the burning of the Westfold, and the children that lie dead there! We shall have peace, when the lives of the soldiers whose bodies were hewn even as they died against the gates of the Hornberg, are avenged!”
A great spider and the greatest offspring of Ungoliant, the primordial spider. Shelob lived on the borders of Mordor and feed indiscriminately on the inhabitants.
Her lair is in the Ephel Dúath (Mountains of Shadow) in Cirith Ungol.
Gollum brought Frodo and Sam through her lair to get the ring back. She poisoned Frodo but was forced to retreat when Sam stabbed her with Sting and fended her off with the light of Eärendil’s Star shone from Frodo’s phial.
A strategic mountain pass through Western Mordor and parallel to the Morgul-road into Gondor. Guarded by the Tower of Cirith Ungol, which was originally built by the men of Gondor after the War of the Last Alliance.
Shelob lived in the caves above it long before the construction of the Tower.
After the Great Plague in TA 1636 wiped out most of Gondor’s population, Sauron took control of the Tower and Minas Ithil.
Frodo and Sam were led up the pass during the Quest of the Ring.
Built across Cirith Gorgor from the Mountains of Ash in the north to the Ephel Dúath in the west.
It is a direct entrance into the realm of Mordor and built with the power of the One Ring.
After the fall of Sauron in the second age the Men of Gondor raised the great Towers of the Teeth (Narchost and Carchost) to oversee Mordor.
The great plague allowed Orcs and Ringwraiths to occupy the area again.
During the War of the Ring, it was heavily fortified and impossible to pass through unnoticed.
It was the site of the last great battle of the War of the Ring.
The Return of the King
Now that you have your Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King notes, you’re ready to tackle the 20th anniversary! Join us in theaters nationwide April 13 & 19 and in Canada on the 20th for the extended edition of this epic journey.
Plus, a special introduction from Elijah Wood (Frodo) discussing the impact of the LOTR trilogy and why fans return again and again to immerse themselves in this story world. Elijah takes audiences through this limited fan event with a celebrity cast to raise support for Extra Life for Kids, a program of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, with recent footage captured at LA Comic Con of the World Premiere of the brand new LOTR Roleplaying tabletop game,